FIRST-TIME tertiary students in the Mirboo North area have received a helping hand to make the transition to higher education.

The Mirboo North and District Community Foundation presented Educational Support Fund (ESF) awards worth more than $22,000 to 12 people.

Diana Mueller, chair of the Community Engagement and Grants committee, said it was a pleasure to present the awards at the foundation’s first community event since February 2020.

“Families and students can spend more than $5000 on their books, stationery, technology and accommodation bonds, all before they even get through the front door of their uni or TAFE,” Ms Mueller said.

Foundation executive officer Ruth Rogan said the awards were more than just financial support but also reflected the support of the community for the recipients’ education.

The ESF was launched in 2013 to grant financial support to young and mature-aged students transitioning into third level education. Since its inception, more than 80 students have received grants of over $150,000.

“This is a fantastic example of the resilience of this town and its community, and demonstrates that when we work together, we thrive together,” Ms Rogan said.

Mirboo North Secondary College careers and VET coordinator Leah Underwood spoke about the transition to university, what local students may experience and the unexpected twists and turns that life can take during this time.

A second speaker, Chloe Palmer, also one of the ESF recipients, recently attended the Rural Youth Leadership Program with Youthrive Victoria.

“It was not what I expected but I learnt a lot about

myself and how young people can support and develop rural communities,” Ms Palmer said.

The foundation is again collaborating with Youthrive in its mentoring program, with each ESF recipient able to access a ‘peer’ mentor, who is a year or two ahead of them in their chosen field at their educational institution.

The program supports students who find the transition into tertiary education so challenging that they drop out. The informal program is guided by the needs of the student and has had a lot of take up over the last few years.