By Angel Whatnall
I can still remember receiving the phone call about my AVCAT scholarship sponsored by RSL Queensland. I remember breaking down in tears of joy and immediately running to my uncle for a celebratory hug. I had received their top scholarship and it was a moment that changed the trajectory of my university life. I was accepted into Law and Journalism at QUT and this scholarship was the step up I needed.
My story with AVCAT began in 2015, I had just moved out of home to pursue my education. My mother was fleeing domestic violence and my Aunt and Uncle stepped in to support me. I was welcomed with open arms into their family and recognised as their dependant within six months of them gaining full custody. An opportunity and welcoming that has changed my life forever.
The next three years my Aunt and Uncle became the loving and supportive parents I needed. I flourished in school and pushed myself to achieve top scores, I became school captain and participated in every extra-curricular activity I could. I did not want to take the opportunity given to me for granted and when the AVCAT scholarships came up I was excited and hastily gathered everything to apply.
My first year of University arrived in 2018, I was feeling everything from fear to stress. I never thought I’d be able to support myself financially to get as far as moving to Brisbane. Everyone was backing me though; my AVCAT scholarship had relieved a solid 70% of my financial burdens. The combination of help I received meant I could live comfortably in a share house, buy textbooks and supplies, afford travel, and even replace my laptop which unexpectedly died during exam block.
I eventually changed degrees to follow a passion in education. AVCAT and my sponsors at the RSL Queensland supported me whole-heartedly in my transition. They have kept in close contact and even when I’ve felt like I could not handle the pressure of university they have given me a reason to work hard.
The support of AVCAT and RSL Queensland truly changed the trajectory of my university life and has helped me maintain a high level of academic success. I hope to pay the support forward one day and thank them for the opportunity to thrive.
Angel was awarded the AVCAT RSL Queensland Scholarship in 2018.