Making lasting connections

Date: 7-Jun-2017

The AIEF Mentor Program pairs students with volunteers from AIEF’s corporate partners and aims to create structured, trusting relationships that will support students through school and beyond.

In 2014, John Swire & Sons Pty announced an AUD 1 million, six year partnership with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (“AIEF”). AIEF provides scholarships that enable indigenous students to attend leading Australian schools and universities, as well as mentoring and career support; 93% of graduates go on to university and/or full-time employment. Swire works with AIEF to identify training and employment opportunities for scholarship students.

One of AIEF’s scholars is Paddy, a young man who grew up in Lockhart River, a small community on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula. Paddy is a boarder at St Joseph’s Nudgee College in Brisbane. Now in Year 12, Paddy’s favourite thing about Nudgee is the connections he has made: “I love Nudgee because you make good friendships – you’re introduced to all kinds of people, which is so great.”

One of the connections Paddy has made is with Jarrod, his AIEF mentor. Jarrod, a Warehouse Manager at Swire Cold Storage, knew nothing about AIEF before he was approached to join the mentor program. “I was really humbled and surprised by the request,” he says. “I started to think about how I could add value to someone’s life.”

The AIEF Mentor Program pairs students with volunteers from AIEF’s corporate partners and aims to create structured, trusting relationships that will support students through school and beyond.

Jarrod and Paddy were both nervous at the beginning, but soon found they shared an interest in sports and a similar sense of humour. “We keep finding more and more in common,” says Jarrod. For Paddy, “Speaking to Jarrod is just like I’m speaking to my best friend.” Paddy has learnt many things from his mentor, but he considers perseverance to be the most important: “He taught me that no matter how hard the job is, you just have to keep going. You never know, you could end up being one of the most successful people if you just stick to it.”

Jarrod says it’s important to realise everyone has something to contribute: “Simply by having worked for a number of years, there’s so much experience we have that can help others. To be honest, I think I’m getting more out of the program than Paddy is! You learn so much and get so much satisfaction.”

(pictured above: Paddy (right) and his elder brother Tristan are both AIEF Scholarship recipients and students of St Joseph’s Nudgee College)

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