“Law is something I have been passionate about for a very long time, and I cannot express how grateful I am to be studying it,” said Hayley.
“I’m grateful not only because it’s the pathway to my biggest dream, but because it’s been a rollercoaster getting here.”
As a 14-year-old, Hayley thought dropping out of school was her only sensible option.
Growing up in Wallaville (50 kilometres south west of Bundaberg), Hayley had watched her parents struggle to make ends meet and support their six children. They divorced when Hayley was 10, and gradually all five of Hayley’s brothers dropped out of school.
Seeing the financial state the family was in, Hayley reasoned that if she left school, she would be able to contribute to the family financially.
But when a close family friend, Nick, was left in a coma following a serious farm accident, Hayley’s future was thrown into perspective.
“Not only were my family going through a devastatingly emotional experience, but we were engulfed in the confusion that comes with workers’ compensation and negligence claims, and the logistical and financial challenges of giving Nick the best support we could by bringing him home,” said Hayley.
“It was really hard to see my family hurt so badly, and I realised I wanted to be the link between rural families and their access to legal assistance.”
In her final years of school, Hayley was juggling work as a tutor and gymnastics coach to provide some income for her family, while living in a caravan on the property as the house had become too full to accommodate everyone.
But her determination to succeed overcame the challenges facing her, and Hayley submitted an application for a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at QUT and graduated from high school with an OP3.
It was after submitting her application to university that Hayley’s mother had to have a heartbreaking discussion with her daughter about the realities of Hayley’s tertiary aspirations.
“Mum sat me down and explained we didn’t have the money for me to move away for university, and that my chance of studying law would heavily rely on securing a scholarship,” said Hayley.
“When I received the official offer to study my course, I wanted to accept it more than anything. But instead I had to wait and see if any of the scholarships I’d applied for would come through and make everything possible.”
A few weeks later, Hayley received word that she would be receiving a Tim Fairfax AC Learning Potential Fund Scholarship.
The Learning Potential Fund provides scholarships to students facing financial disadvantage to help them complete their studies—a goal it has been achieving consistently, with research showing recipients are significantly more likely to finish their degree than non-recipients.
“Everything was starting to fall into place. I was able to pay rental bond, move to Brisbane, and purchase textbooks and a laptop for my first semester at university,” said Hayley.
With only a couple of years left of study, Hayley is now within reach of achieving her dream of providing legal support to rural communities.
“The Learning Potential Fund is the reason I am able to strive for my dream of helping vulnerable people,” said Hayley.
“Without it, I would not be where I am today.”
To support students like Hayley, please make an online gift to the Learning Potential Fund, or for more information on the Fund, please contact Nadeyn Barbieri, Senior Development Officer (LPF) on +61 7 3138 5357 or email LearningPotentialFund@qut.edu.au.
Hear more from Hayley about the impact generous donors to the Learning Potential Fund have had on her studies:
The QUT Learning Potential Fund is pleased to welcome Hugh Nalder, Director of Hugh Nalder & Associates, as Committee Chair.
Dr Nalder has a longstanding relationship with the university, having previously been a member of QUT Council for 11 years, serving as founding Chairman of qutbluebox until 2016, and having been a passionate advocate for the fund and member of the LPF Committee since 2011.
Dr Nalder has taken up the voluntary role of Chair for a two-year term, following the previous Chair, Dr Ray Weekes. During his term Dr Weekes helped build the fund from a $26 million endowment in 2014 to $44 million in 2017. Together with his wife Penny, Dr Weekes also established a new scholarship in tribute to Dr Weekes’ mother—the Joy Forrester Learning Potential Fund Scholarship. The QUT Learning Potential Fund students extend their gratitude to Dr and Mrs Weekes for their support.
BDO took home the silver award for Best Launch or Refresh (Small Employer) after establishing a workplace giving program to fund their BDO Learning Potential Fund Scholarships.
The scholarships provide support to disadvantaged students undertaking a Bachelor of Business (Accountancy) or Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Laws (Honours).
QUT alumnus and BDO Partner, Bernard Curran, says the scholarships bring a new aspect to BDO’s philanthropic work and are well embraced by BDO staff.