Power of support to drive dreams

By Kate Maddern

Research agronomist and Rhodes Scholar-elect.

This is a part of a series of personal stories from young advocates and their reflections on Philanthropy Australia’s conference theme – Future Needs, Now? The opinion pieces range across issues of diversity, equity, justice and the role of philanthropy in supporting social change.

The diversity of the dreams of young people cannot be underestimated, nor can our ability to shape not only our own future, but the future of our country. While I cannot speak for all young people in this country, nor can I begin to comprehend the breadth of their dreams of the future, I think that everyone should be supported to chase their dreams.

It has been the generosity of others that have allowed me to chase my dreams, and I believe that it is the role of philanthropy to provide young people with the support they need to make their future whatever they hope it to be. 

After graduating from high school, I moved from my small country town, Kaniva to Melbourne to study at Monash University. Youthrive Victoria, formerly Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation, provided me with the financial support, mentoring and a community of other young rural people. This support was invaluable, allowing me to make good friends, build career networks and to work fewer hours so that I could focus more on my studies.

This support was exactly what I needed because the scholarship package was designed by Youthrive Victoria who sought feedback and input from those for whom the scholarship was intended to help. This support that I received was perfect for me but would not have been as useful for a metropolitan student who wanted to undertake vocational training. If philanthropy wants to support young people to chase their dreams, it is vital to ensure that young people are consulted so that the support can be as helpful as this scholarship package was for me.

The flow on benefits from this scholarship have been massive for me.

As a result of the YouthThrive scholarship, I gained better academic marks than I would have been able to if I had to work more hours during semester. These better grades allowed me to apply for a Rhodes Scholarship, which I was fortunate enough to receive. It has been an immense privilege so far, and I am looking forward to continuing my studies at Oxford University. 

To anyone in philanthropy who is considering how they can best support young people, I would urge them to fund scholarships.

I struggle to fully articulate impact the of scholarships that I have received, such is the extent that they have changed my life. I hope that I one day will be able to contribute to a scholarship, to provide another young person with the tailored support they need to achieve their dreams.

Kate Maddern is a Research Agronomist at the Birchip Cropping Group. Kate completed a Bachelor of Science Advanced – Global Challenges (Honours), at Monash University. She is passionate about sustainable agriculture, which stems from her involvement on her family’s farm. Kate is a Rhodes Scholar-Elect, and was a recipient of the Youthrive Scholarship in 2014.  

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