Dylan overcame a family tragedy to reach his dreams

When he was in Year 8, Dylan’s world changed because of a freak accident that could have happened to anyone. But it wasn’t anyone, it was Dylan’s mum. And it plunged the family into financial hardship. Without his Smith Family sponsors, Dylan is certain he wouldn’t be where he is today.

“In 2008, my mum suffered a severe head injury. After that, my sister and I took on all the household responsibilities. We were kind of taken away from being children and thrust into this serious role of carer and coordinator of household duties and finances,” said Dylan, aged 23.

The financial strain soon meant that Dylan couldn’t participate in key school activities. Then sponsorship turned his life around.

The sponsorship money definitely was incredible. It would help us get basic school supplies and pay the school fees.

“I remember once that because I hadn't paid my school fees, I couldn’t use the library or go on excursions. I was missing out on things that were core to the subjects I was studying. It was a bit isolating from the rest of my class,” said Dylan.

“It was a bit hard at the start of the term – those new costs that came up. But we always knew there would be some support coming in from The Smith Family.”

When Dylan set his sights on university, ongoing sponsorship meant he could move interstate and afford course materials. It also gave him access to a tertiary mentor, who has provided much-needed guidance.

“I'm now studying a Masters of Architecture, following on from my Bachelor of Architecture,” said Dylan.

“The mentor program is fantastic. University only teaches you so much. Having a mentor who has graduated and worked in the field is really great for you to run ideas past. They can give you really helpful feedback.

“Eventually, I would like to work overseas with communities in disaster relief, rebuilding communities and designing sustainable features. I'm also quite interested in working in Australia in rural communities.”

Looking back, Dylan can’t believe how far he has come. He will always be so grateful to his sponsor for giving him the chance to follow his dream.

“It is a really worthwhile investment to get more people through their education. I'm definitely going to give back as soon as I can. It has been such an incredible help to me that I'm compelled to contribute.”