Ellie has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she could talk, but when the Black Summer bushfires devastated her home town, she thought her dreams would go up in smoke.
Since receiving a special grant from the Vinnies Bushfire Education Scholarship Fund, however, Ellie is once again excited for her future as she studies for a Bachelor of Education at the Charles Sturt University.
The bushfires were a traumatic experience for Ellie. Her mother and sister had to flee the town while Ellie stayed behind with her father to protect their house. The days spent hosing down the house and the surrounding areas eventually took their toll on Ellie when she became ill from smoke inhalation and stress.
Ellie also lost a friend to the fires and the experience has devastated her and her community:
“I still see the impact of the fires every day all around us - in my colleagues and friends who lost property, infrastructure and even their homes, in the environment and in my family and others who are still dealing with what happened to our friend. His death made the months of rebuilding all the more gruelling.”
Even though Ellie’s education was delayed because of the fires, she is determined to realise her dream so she applied for funding to help continue her studies. Ellie told us the difference the funding will make:
“This scholarship would not only allow me to comfortably relocate to university, which is 1.5 hours away but also help alleviate the costs associated with studying, such as equipment, stationery, books and placement costs. It would also allow me to reduce my work shifts, all of which means I can completely concentrate on my studies to become the best teacher I can be.”
Ellie’s focus on her study during times of extreme adversity is testimony to her strength and resilience, but it is her commitment to her community that is truly inspiring:
“I am so grateful for Vinnies and the scholarship. Being able to educate others who want to learn is my ultimate goal in life. I aspire to make a difference in my community and this education grant will help me to achieve that.”
We wish Ellie all the best in her studies and her very bright future.