Everybody has the right to be proud of who they are.
But for Olivia, AGL’s first Pinnacle Foundation scholarship recipient, that hasn’t always been easy. Growing up as a member of the LGBTI+ community in the Latrobe Valley, Olivia often felt incredibly alone.
‘I was a late bloomer, I didn’t come out until I was 19,’ Olivia said.
‘This was mainly because being gay can still be very stigmatised in the country. I thought that if I was anything but straight, I’d get weird looks and be treated differently.’
Last year, Olivia moved to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Computer Science at Swinburne University. After moving to the city, she began to experience issues working and studying due to chronic back pain.
‘People forget that many LGBTI+ people lose their families when they come out. This means they often don’t have the family support networks to fall back on when things aren’t going to plan,’ she said.
’I came across The Pinnacle Foundation during my first year of study, and admired not just the financial side of things, but also their family mentality. They really do their best to support us and keep us afloat.’
What is the Pinnacle Foundation scholarship?
The Pinnacle Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation providing educational scholarships, mentoring, and opportunities for young LGBTI+ Australians, helping them to realise their full potential and overcome challenges arising from their identity. Last year we launched a new three-year partnership with the Pinnacle Foundation. Under this partnership, AGL will offer a scholarship to one young person who has come from the LGBTI+ community in the Latrobe Valley every year.
Olivia said she was pleased AGL had decided to partner with the foundation to provide educational opportunities for those who had grown up in the Latrobe Valley.
‘AGL is an incredible company, I’m so grateful. My uncle worked at Loy Yang Power Station – so there’s a strong family link for me there,’ Olivia said.
‘As a Pinnacle scholar, I’ve been offered financial assistance – which means I can now support myself in the city and focus more on my studies. With programming, there is a lot of time spent troubleshooting and working on design portfolios, so this has been a huge help.
‘I’ve also been paired with an incredible mentor who works in IT. They have become someone I can rely on to keep me grounded, to help me to stay driven without overworking myself.
‘Living in the country, I didn’t really know anyone who was LGBTI+. But now, I have a family of people who are just like me. It has been incredible to meet so many out and proud LGBTI+ people – it really makes you feel inspired, and less alone.’
Olivia’s advice for anyone thinking about applying for a Pinnacle Foundation scholarship is simple.
‘There are other LGBTI+ people out there shining their pride lights. Just remember, you are enough, you are valid – regardless of your upbringing, your gender, your sexuality. You’ll find your people, just keep trying, and think to yourself: what’s the harm in applying?’
Applications now open
We’re proud to be partnering with the Pinnacle Foundation to support young LGBTI+ scholars, like Olivia, to fulfil their potential.
Today (28 August) is Wear it Purple Day, and to mark this important day we’re pleased to announce the opening of applications for the 2021 Pinnacle Foundation scholarships. These scholarships are open to young LGBTI+ people (aged 17 – 26 years old) from the Latrobe Valley.
Applications will close on Tuesday 15 September. To find out more, please visit The Pinnacle Foundation website.