Inspired to teach
Despite a difficult childhood, Maria finished Dux of her school in 2013. Inspired by the positive impact her teachers had on her life and studies, she pursued a career in teaching, receiving an Augustus Short Scholarship in 2014. Today, Maria is an English and Humanities teacher at her old high school and a Council member for the City of Salisbury.
Growing up Maria was exposed to violence, alcoholism and psychiatric disorders while living with her parents in country Victoria and NSW. Her first experience with foster care was as an infant. Then at the age of 12, after teachers noticed her bruises and frequent absences from school, she was removed from her home and placed in permanent foster care.
“Experiencing trauma growing up, and attending several different primary and high schools, made my education very disjointed,” Maria said.
A sequence of events then led Maria to a fresh start in South Australia when she was 16 – half way through her Year 11 studies.
“When I moved to South Australia I attended Salisbury High School, where I received a lot of support from the teachers.”
“I was very dedicated to my studies, and because of my exposure to the system growing up, I had planned to pursue a career in legal studies.”
“What I didn’t realise was how much influence teachers have on your life. The teachers at Salisbury High School built on my strengths and showed me how to belong in a community. In fact, every school that I attended had teachers that looked out for me and encouraged me to be my best self.”
“After I finished high school, I realised that if I wanted to make a positive difference on young people's lives, then teaching was what I wanted to pursue. I consequently changed all my University preferences on the night before the SATAC applications were due.”
Life after University
“Today, I love spending time with my students and working with the great teachers who inspired me to be the person I am today. I learn a lot collaborating with my colleagues, and seeing the innovative ways that they make learning relevant, worldly and engaging for students.”
“In 2020, together with the Kain Foundation, I helped to establish the Northern Opportunities four-year leadership program at Salisbury High School, and I supported our first group of students in graduating from the first year of the program.”
“The Northern Opportunities program provides students with mentoring, leadership training, life skills, scholarships and paid work experience, starting when students are in Year 9 through to Year 12. Our aim is to challenge young people to create their own goals, build resilience, work hard, test their limits, feel independent and equipped with the social and economic tools to create a self-sufficient future”
A message for our donor community
“Thank you! The scholarship has had an enormous impact on my life both personally and professionally. Without it, I am not sure I would have finished University.”
“Not only did the scholarship cover the costs of living, transport and text books, it gave me the opportunity to focus on my studies and take-up opportunities in the community that I wouldn’t have been in a position to do if I had to juggle casual work as well as my studies.”
While at University, Maria was also involved in the Salisbury Youth Council; Youth Parliament, becoming Youth Governor in 2015; she was State representative for the Office and Youth, for National Youth Week in 2014-2015; and she volunteered for the SA Mental Health Commission on the Youth Advisory Group.
“I hope more students have the opportunities and positive experiences I have had because of this scholarship.”
Make a gift today
In 2020, there were 84 Augustus Short Scholarship applications, but only three could be awarded.
Your gift will have a direct impact on disadvantaged students across the state for years to come.
You can make a gift online in honour of Dr Augustus Short or by getting in touch with our Development team on +61 8 8313 5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.