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"I am determined to break the cycle"

AIEF Scholarship graduate Jola Cumming gave the following speech at AIEF Corporate Partner SAP’s Branch Meeting on 30 May 2018.

Jola completed Year 12 at St Vincent’s College, Potts Point in 2013. She is currently studying a Masters of PE Teaching at The University of Sydney.

At the Branch Meeting, AIEF received a 10,000 Euro donation from SAP, sharing the prize money with SAP ANZ’s other CSR partner.

Good morning and thank you all for having me here today.

I would love to acknowledge the Traditional Owners on the land and waters of which we are meeting today, the Cammeraygal and the Wallum-edegal people of the Kuringgai Nation. I do so under responsibility as a Butchulla and Gawara Salt Water Murri Woman. I am a descendant of the Gawara King, who was resilient and a phenomenal leader for our mob.

My name is Jola Cumming. I want to tell you a little about my story and how I ended up going to St Vincent's College in Potts Point, to studying a health science degree, to now studying a Masters in PE Teaching.

My brother Isaiah Dawe is also an AIEF Alumni and he attended St Gregory's College in Campbelltown. His experience and opportunities have led to his individual success. His success through AIEF is what inspired me to apply to St Vincent's College which would have only been available to me through the help of AIEF.

St Vincent's gave me amazing friends, which I was soon to call my family. The school taught me discipline, routine and it gave me the right support to become the best version of myself.

Throughout my schooling years AIEF provided weekly tutoring and mentoring and I can guarantee I would not have made it through without such support.

Growing up in the foster care system was extremely restricting and the hardest experience of my life, and I would never have envisioned finishing school, let alone attending an incredible school such as St Vincent's and completing the HSC. Little did I know this would be the beginning of my academic success.

I am one of the very few who made it, as Aboriginal young people in foster care are more likely to: end up in the criminal justice system, be homeless, not finish high school or go onto further studies.

And it was the opportunity AIEF gave me to open my avenues and eyes into what the world has to offer instead of being blindfolded by the system.

I am determined to break the cycle. I have worked so hard over the years, giving it my all in my HSC to gain my ATAR, and from that I was given the opportunity to be the first from my family to graduate from university. I graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science from the University of Sydney - which is now ranked the world’s number 1 university for health science.

Due to my experiences, I have developed a greater appreciation for education and learning and this has inspired my next career path. I am now studying my Masters of PE Teaching at the University of Sydney. I am excited for what's to come and look forward to now being on the other side of the table as a teacher and sharing the importance of education and how it truly can change your life.

Thank you.

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I'm doing this not only for myself but for my community and my family. To me it's about giving back to my people and taking every opportunity that comes my way.

AIEF Alumni

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The AIEF Scholarship Program and the AIEF Pathways Program are supported by the Australian Government in collaboration with individual, philanthropic and corporate supporters from the private sector.