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Future looks bright for MSN scholarship recipients


Hunter teenager Kaiden Smith is confident in what lies ahead for him.

And, he has a Mentor Support Network (MSN) Educational Scholarship to thank for his newfound optimism.

The 17-year-old was one of 47 youngsters from Newcastle, and the wider region, to receive his certificate at the organisation’s presentation ceremony at the Newcastle Harness Racing Club this month.

MSN strives to remove inequality for students who have proven potential but are held back by financial disadvantage.

Kaiden Smith (right) with teacher Claire Tipper and fellow scholarship recipients, Deakin Grainger and Hayden Harman.

Kaiden’s studying for his Certificate II in Automotive Servicing Technology at Hunter Trade College at Telarah.

“This scholarship is allowing me to help myself to a better future,” he said.

“It’s given me the drive to better myself and focus on my potential.”

Kaiden, who’s enjoying his first year at Hunter Trade College, used part of his funds to purchase a toolbox for the equipment he requires for the course.

Happy MSN scholarship recipients at the 2024 presentation ceremony.

More than 100 people attended the 2024 Educational Scholarship Presentation Ceremony, not only acknowledging the recipients on hand but also hearing from guest speakers such as Dale Garbutt, a school EAL/D community liaison officer, and Sharon Smith, from Zeal Futures.

Mentor Support Network chair Julie Rich admitted many of the pupils – from Alesco College – Cooks Hill, Callaghan Campus – Jesmond, Cooks Hill Campus – Newcastle, Hunter River High School, Hunter Sports High School, Hunter Trade College, Job Quest, Kotara High School, Lake Macquarie High School, Lambton High School, Maitland High School, Merewether High School, St Francis Xavier’s College – Hamilton and Zara’s House – Jesmond – experienced significant socio-economic difficulties or family challenges.

“The main aim of MSN is to provide a pathway where Hunter students can reach their potential and complete their high school or vocational studies,” she said.

“Eighteen of them boast a refugee background and are from countries such as Afghanistan, Congo, Eritrea, Iran and Syria.

“So, we’re very fortunate to have great sponsors and supporters, which enables us to offer scholarships to assist high school and other pupils who require a helping hand in their studies and education activities.

“The ceremony gave MSN an opportunity to thank them, too.”

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