I am fortunate and very grateful for this scholarship. I realise now how much of an influence Pop, Poppy, my great-uncles, and the war veterans at the club had. This influence will stay with me all my life.
By Mia Taylor
I grew up in a tiny village in rural northern New South Wales, close to Byron Bay. The house is bordered by sweet potato paddocks and avocado farms. My grandfather (Poppy), a veteran of WWII, lived on the farm orchard, only 700m away from our house. We can hear the ocean from our verandah.
My childhood was idyllic. I spent so much time with Poppy and my father on the farm picking avocados, feeding the chooks and on the beach fishing. Poppy was a great fisherman.
I come from a particularly martial and duty-driven family. My favourite great-uncle and my father’s cousin both served in Vietnam. My great-grandfather (Pop) changed his name to enlist in 1914. He was underage and didn’t want his parents to have him called back home. His WWI medals are in his assumed name.
I was proud to wear Pop’s medals for ANZAC Day Ceremonies at the school War Memorial every year when I made speeches as school captain.
Pop landed at Gallipoli on the 25th of April 1915. He was eventually shot in the head at Quinn’s Post and lost an eye. He lived until he was 94 years old. Two of his brothers signed up later and survived the Western Front.
My primary school has a War Memorial and tall Norfolk Pines, named for the WWI veterans who lost their lives, line the road to school.
Poppy passed away last year; he was 94 years old. At his funeral, an RSL representative made a speech about the war. It was an incredible story in this present, peaceful time.
My parents and I are heavily involved in the local Surf Life Saving Club. I started as a Nipper and moved to a senior competitor and patrol member. Now, I am a professional lifeguard on the beach during the university summer holidays. Many club members are veterans and demonstrate service to the community.
I am studying Bachelor of Science – Resource Management and Sustainable Development at the
Australian National University, Canberra. I live in a residential college on campus, 1100km away from home.
Last year, my AVCAT scholarship helped me pay residential college fees. This year my scholarship payments will help with a university Vietnam Field Trip. It is so exciting. I am fortunate and very grateful for this scholarship. I realise now how much of an influence Pop, Poppy, my great-uncles, and the war veterans at the club had. This influence will stay with me all my life.
Mia was awarded the RSL Australia Scholarship in 2022