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Curtin staff giving program invests in future of students

25/08/2022. By Carmelle Wilkinson.

Curtin Law student Annabel Biscotto.

Since she was four years old, Curtin Law and International Relations student Annabel Biscotto was fascinated with the world around her.

Inquisitive by nature, the youngster’s inherent passion for education and love of learning was evident after her first day of kindergarten.

While her new friends excitedly told their Mums about the cool paintings they had created or the lovely time they had in the playground, Annabel had questions.

“When Mum picked me up, I told her my day was good, but I wanted to know why I didn’t learn to read and write,’’ she said.

“I’ve always been interested in learning and from a young age was eager to start my education journey,’’ she said.

“As a student I always tried my hardest at school and doing well meant a great deal to me. Which is why it was so frustrating when I struggled at times to sit still and focus.”

Annabel said the frustration continued throughout her primary and secondary schooling, and it wasn’t until she was 20 that she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The diagnosis lifted years of confusion off her shoulders and finally gave Annabel clarity.

“I always knew there was sort of something there, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it,’’ she said.

“Education has always been important to me, and I’ve known that my whole life, but I could never understand why I haven’t been able to sit down and study.

“Finding out I had ADHD so late in life not only helped me understand the challenges I had experienced it also helped my family know how to best to support me.”

Coming from a small and close-knit Italian-Australian family, Annabel said her grandparents migrated from Italy in the late 1950s to begin a new life in Australia.

Annabel with her Nonna and brother Ben making gnocchi after school.

“They made many sacrifices for their children to have a prosperous life here in this wonderful country and I am fortunate enough to reap the benefits as their grandchild,’’ she said.

“I enjoy spending time with my Nonna and it reminds me of how lucky I am to have grown up in a supportive family and have had the opportunity to pursue an education.

“My family has shown me the importance of acceptance and welcoming all with open arms and I seek to embody this concept through my service to others.

“Although I initially had dreams of working for the Australian Embassy in Italy, my passion has always been helping others seek justice and following graduation I’d love to work as a criminal lawyer.”

Last month, Annabel attended the Australian Law Association Conference in Brisbane, an opportunity that was made possible with support from Curtin’s staff giving program – Give to Change.

Thanks to the generosity of staff, the program provides financial support to students working towards their career goals.

Annabel said without the funding she would not have been able to attend the conference, let alone be nominated as the Association’s new President.

“It was a great opportunity to go over to Brisbane and meet delegates from law schools around Australia,’’ she said.

“It really tested my leadership skills and inspired me to nominate for the executive role of President on the Association for the next 12 months.

“I am truly grateful for the support of Curtin staff in my journey and helping me continue to chase my passion.”

Annabel said her recently published paper on Mental Health and Wellbeing, elevates law student voices on the importance of mental health.

“The publication was originally written for law students to assist them with burn out, but it could definitely translate to other degrees,’’ she said.

“It discusses the importance of maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends and getting enough sleep and exercise.

“This is something I am extremely passionate about, and I hope this publication opens the lines of communication for other students who may also be in a similar position to me and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the legal profession.”

Curtin Mechanical Engineering and Finance student Patrick Catambay at Curtin Bentley Campus.

Motivated to learn, grow and make a meaningful difference for others, Curtin Mechanical Engineering and Finance student Patrick Catambay will attend the inaugural Green Summit in Bangkok later this year thanks to financial support from Give to Change.

Held over four days in December, the Summit will attract Green Ambassadors from around the world to champion climate action at a global level.

“Environmental sustainability, technology and action forms a huge part of what I’m interested in, and I am sincerely grateful to be given the opportunity to attend this Summit which is so close to my heart,’’ he said.

Originally from the Philippines, Patrick moved to Australia with his family when he was young and spent much of his childhood in Karratha.

Surrounded by the red dirt and wide open spaces of the regional mining town, Patrick enjoyed an adventurous childhood, playing sport and exploring the picturesque coastline.

One of 36 in his Year 12 cohort, Patrick valued education, and made the most of his experiences.

“Growing up in a household that emphasised education I always enjoyed studying and was serious about doing well. My Dad is a mechanical engineer and Mum was a civil engineer before she stopped to raise my siblings and I, so you could say it’s in the family,’’ he said.

“My Dad grew up in the rice fields in the Philippines and worked extremely hard to get an education and create a better life for our family. He’s been a great role model in my life.”

Patrick spent much of his childhood in Karratha where his Dad worked as a Mechanical Engineer. (L-R) Patrick’s sister Retchell, brother Kevin, Mum Merle, Dad Julian, (Patrick) and eldest brother Dexter.

Patrick said the Green Summit was as opportunity for him to contribute and interact with others who are equally as passionate about the future of our planet.

“My generation is probably the last and most likely to be able to contribute and steer us out of whatever we are headed towards, and I would like to be a part of that change,’’ he said.

“Following graduation, the perfect job for me would be working as a mechanical engineer while supporting my family and helping save the world. That would be the dream.”

Curtin staff member Chanelle Gibbs said the university’s Give to Change program aligned with her values and supported a cause she was passionate about – education.

Curtin Student Experience Coordinator Chanelle Gibbs.

“Undertaking university study at any life stage is challenging on its own, without the addition of inequality factors such as finances or cultural circumstances, which can make further education out of reach or unnecessarily difficult for many people,’’ she said.

“Education is so powerful in boosting opportunities for those who are given the chance to wholly participate in and complete their studies.

“Empowering those from different backgrounds has a positive cascading influence on future generations, not only increases employment and financial opportunities, but it is of great benefit in solving complex problems, as there are many points of view collaborating to come up with the solutions, this can only be good for all of us.”

If you would like to find out more about Curtin’s staff giving program please click here.

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