Two inspiring Perth women have been awarded prestigious Tim Anderson Scholarships to support their tertiary studies after overcoming significant mental health journeys.
Alecia Wood, from Success, was presented with a $15,000 scholarship over three years, while Carine woman Ellen Slatter was awarded a $2500 scholarship.
The awards, in honour of 26-year-old Tim Anderson who was killed by a drunk driver while cycling in Mosman Park in 2012, were presented at the Hawaiian Ride for Youth cocktail party on April 13.
Tim Anderson Scholarships support the education aspirations of young Western Australians involved in the work of Youth Focus, whether as current or former clients or post graduate students undertaking study in the area of youth mental health.
Alecia, 19, has struggled with depression and anxiety since Year 8 when her parents separated. Her mental health difficulties became significant obstacles to study and her pursuit of an ATAR score to proceed directly to university.
Despite this, Alecia showed tenacity and completed high school through a general pathway, graduating with distinction. She is now attending a 14-week bridging course at Murdoch University and hopes to complete an accounting degree.
Alecia said she was stunned to be named a 2018 Tim Anderson Scholarship winner.
“Being named a scholarship winner was a real shock. I couldn’t believe it,” Alecia said. “When I got the phone call I was in the car with my mum and we both just started crying.
“I am so thankful and excited to receive this award. My family has had a lot of financial troubles so this will help me get my foot in the door. It’s probably going to change my life.”
Ellen, 18, was acknowledged for her determination to pursue academia, despite her challenges with anxiety and depression, which started at the age of 11.
Due to ongoing mental health struggles during her school years, Ellen’s distress levels reached a peak in Year 11, which led to her leaving school.
After completing a TAFE bridging course, Ellen is now studying her first year of a social work degree at Curtin University and hopes to help other young people with mental health challenges.
“I am extremely honoured and overwhelmed to receive this scholarship as I work towards my dream of helping other young people,” Ellen said.
Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said the Tim Anderson Scholarships were significant investments that helped young people in their pursuit of tertiary education.
“We are proud to award this year’s Tim Anderson Scholarships to two worthy recipients in Alecia and Ellen, who have both shown significant determination to work through their personal mental health challenges,” Ms Kalaf said.
“Tim Anderson was an excellent student and education was an important part of his life.
“Alecia stands out for her determination and refusal to give up in light of her struggles.
“She is a role model to other young people facing mental health difficulties in high school who fear that if they do not get an ATAR score, they will not be successful. Alecia is proof that there is always another pathway.
“Ellen should be admired for her perseverance in working through her mental health challenges and her desire to help and support others confronted with similar issues.
“She should be acknowledged for her determination, her persistence and her willpower in continuing to find solutions to difficulties when they present.”
Research shows one in four young Australians live with a mental health condition, with 75 per cent of mental illnesses first appearing in people under the age of 25.
If you or someone you know needs urgent support please contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443