Who would have thought a boy from Majors Creek, near Braidwood, would end up working for one of the world’s fastest-growing online gaming and streaming services?
Michael Ison, who works in the advertising team for Amazon’s Twitch.tv, is part of the Country Education Foundation’s (CEF) Aspirational Influencers program. And he’s opening the eyes of country kids all over regional NSW.
He says there’s a whole world of opportunities for rural students if they know where to look and remain open to new ideas.
“My best advice to anyone is not to close yourself off to opportunities that might come up, even if you don’t know what those opportunities might be,” Michael says.
“Just do the absolute best version of whatever you’re doing right now and position yourself to be ready to strike when something awesome comes around, and it will!”
Michael attended Braidwood Central School from Kindergarten to year 12 before graduating in 2015 from the University of Canberra with a Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing Communications.
He didn’t know his career path when at school, but says CEF has been invaluable in helping him move to the city and begin his university journey before landing his dream job with Twitch.tv
“Some people have deep and detailed life plans – I’ve never been one of those people – so growing up fairly remote it was hard to look around and see people doing things I might be interested in,” he says.
A CEF grant set Michael on a path to success and now he’s hoping to give back through the Aspirational Influencers program by inspiring country school students, showing them what is possible and, more importantly, how to make it happen.
Another volunteer with the program, recent law graduate from the University of Canberra, Madeline Davis grew up in Yass.
Madeline took five years to complete her degree, supported for the majority of the time by CEF funding and mentors.
She joined the program with the hope of educating like-minded young people about the options available to them, and to support and inspire them to go after their post-schools goals – whether it’s to attend university or TAFE, undertake an apprenticeship or obtain a White Card.
“CEF helped me in ways which extend far beyond only financial support,” Madeline says.
“They provided me with the ability to pursue my studies, from the purchase of a laptop, to the multitude of textbooks required, and the costs associated with travel.
“During my degree I had to overcome adversity, and CEF supported me through this and helped me navigate where to go and what options were available to me.”
Madeline would have found it difficult to access the resources needed without CEF.
She says being able to network with CEF sponsors and meet supporters has given her the purpose and inspiration to do her best.
“These people see the potential and believe in you.”
She says the Aspirational Influencers can open the minds of students to the possibilities they can achieve.
Michael and Madeline are looking forward to their continued involvement with the Aspirational Influencers program in 2022.
The Aspirational Influencers are current and former grant recipients passionate about the benefits of further education and understand first-hand the unique challenges faced by rural and regional students.
CEF supports youth through financial grants for education, training and employment expenses.
Since 1993 CEF has provided 6780 grants totalling more than $14.7 million to country students.
The aim of the Country Education Foundation of Australia is to provide youth of any background living in rural and regional communities with access to the services and resources they need in order to fulfill their personal potential, contribute to the communities in which they live and to help close the participation gap that exists between country and city students.