Scholarships can change lives and if you needed more proof of this, look no further than 16 year old, Edwije Pendo, from St Patrick’s Technical College.
Edwije’s enrolment in the College’s Construction program this year was only possible thanks to The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program. This scholarship, aimed at supporting disadvantaged children and youth through education from preschool to tertiary studies, has been a turning point in Edwije’s life and career ambitions.
“The Smith Family gave me a scholarship to enter the school,’’ she said. “This meant that I only had to contribute a small sum of money. If it wasn’t for their support I would have missed out on a life-changing opportunity. The support from The Smith Family meant that I was able to have the best education at the best school.”
Edwije, who arrived in Australia as a five-year-old in 2006 from a Tanzanian refugee camp, hopes to secure a school-based apprenticeship as a first fix carpenter.
With three brothers and five sisters, Edwije’s family struggled financially following their arrival as her father’s building qualifications were not recognised in Australia. When her father stopped working long hours in a local factory to begin full-time studies the family were reliant on Centrelink benefits.
So in 2011, a year after they became Australian citizens, the family joined The Smith Family. Edwije was in the charity’s Student to Student program to help improve her English skills.
“One day a letter came from The Smith Family inviting all Year 10 students to attend a tour and information night at St Patrick’s Technical College. The College presents unique opportunities for students to start a trade and pathways through school-based apprenticeships,’’ she said.
“I thought this was a great opportunity for me to chase my passion.’’
Edwije said her teachers’ encouragement and support in the classroom and workshop had helped build her confidence and inspire her to chase her dreams.
“I really enjoy all the lessons because they are focused on what you want to do and you are not learning irrelevant stuff,’’ she said.
Edwije said being the only girl in her class was not an issue as the students all shared common interests in trade. She hopes to encourage more women to take up roles in male-dominated industries, like carpentry.
“I now feel quite confident entering a workforce that is male-dominated. I feel that it will give me an opportunity to empower and encourage women that stereotypes are barriers that we must learn to overcome.
“I would like to learn the business of carpentry so I will potentially have my own company and employ young people. I want to be able to help the community as it has so generously helped me.’’
For more information about St Patrick’s Technical College’s scholarships contact 8209 3700. For information about The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program contact 8224 1400.