By Megan Beecher
My name is Megan Beecher, in 2020 I was the recipient of the AVCAT Australian War Widows NSW Scholarship. My Grandfather, Major Arthur McDermott (Grandpa Mac, as he was to my brothers and I) was a veteran, serving in the Australian Army from 1951 – 1975.
One of my fondest memories of Grandpa was when I was about four years old and refused to finish my plate of supper. Everyone else at the table tried to encourage me to eat and then Grandpa came and sat next to me and patiently put a tiny bit of mashed potato on the fork, then a little bit more, and a little bit more, until it was all gone. Whilst this seems like a trivial thing to remember, the patience he had to support me in the smallest challenges has always stuck with me, and this particular memory reminds me continuously to tackle challenges head on. Grandpa was, and is, an immense source of inspiration in my life. I constantly evaluate myself by wondering ‘would Grandpa Mac be proud?’, and when facing challenges always remember to tackle it one ‘fork-full’ at a time.
In 2018 I moved to the UK for two years – here I worked at a boarding school with children aged between two and thirteen. This ignited my passion for teaching and learning and saw me undertake a Diploma in Early Years Education while working fulltime. Once back in Australia, I commenced my study of a Bachelor of Primary Education at the University of Wollongong, in March 2020. The AVCAT Australian War Widows NSW scholarship has allowed me to embark on my studies confidently without the concern of the financial implications on family that being a rural student can impose.
While 2020 was a challenging year for many people, I moved home and adapted to remote learning, I spent time with family, achieved my academic goals and was accepted for a job as a teaching assistant at the local primary school I attended as a child. Returning to the classroom has further kindled my passion for teaching and enriched my desire to excel with the support of AVCAT and the Australian War Widows NSW.
Each ‘fork-full’ of my path to becoming a teacher has been incredible thus far. The constant, underlying motivation of; ‘would Grandpa Mac be proud?’ has seen me come to understand that educating children is a heart-warming joy, amazing privilege, and great responsibility. In the same way Grandpa Mac taught me; as teachers, we are not responsible for preparing students for something – it is our job to help students prepare themselves for anything!
Megan was accepted into the University of Wollongong Dean’s Scholar Program in 2021. Congratulations Megan!