Building confidence to succeed

Emma grew up surrounded by the effects of generational disadvantage. With no one to  seek advice from at school or home, Emma started to lose hope. In Year 10, she joined The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program where she received sponsorship and took part in the iTrack online mentoring program. This combined support empowered Emma to go on to university and become a lawyer.

Emma, Learning for Life student

Learning for Life graduate, Emma

The financial barriers [of education] are both obvious and obstructive…but students like me also need to be inspired and have role models to follow and seek advice from [at such an important decision time for our future],

says Emma

My mother was doing her best to raise two smart girls on her own. We were financially stressed and I worked part-time to help out. Nobody I knew – not a family friend or a distant relative – had been to university,” says Emma.

Emma first became involved with The Smith Family when she was in Year 10, where she received financial support for school essentials like uniforms, text books and school equipment. She was also paired with a mentor as part of the iTrack online mentoring program.

The financial barriers [of education] are both obvious and obstructive…but students like me also need to be inspired and have role models to follow and seek advice from [at such an important decision time for our future].

“iTrack helped me with that first obstacle – finishing high school. My score broke records at my disadvantaged school and I was offered a place at university.

The Smith Family understood that wasn’t the end of our journey. University is expensive and coming from a disadvantaged background, I was lacking a professional network, which is important in establishing a career.

At university, Emma was again matched with a mentor – one from her desired field, who provided career advice and support. Encouraged by his unshakable belief that she could do anything she put her mind to, Emma switched from studying journalism to the pursuit of a law degree. After she graduated in 2013, Emma began her career at Victorian Legal Aid and was recently admitted to the Supreme Court of Victoria.

With The Smith Family’s support I have had some amazing opportunities. During my law degree I interned for Congress in Washington DC. Each day I was there, I was struck by how unimaginable this would have been to my 15-year-old self.

The effects of The Smith Family extend well beyond my own career. Shortly I will be training to become a mentor to another young law student receiving The Smith Family’s support.

The effects of The Smith Family extend well beyond my own career. Shortly I will be training to become a mentor to another young law student receiving The Smith Family’s support,

says Emma