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Rising Stars in Coffs Harbour


Brigid Veale
29 October 2009
Lawyer, youth advocate and author Heath Ducker will be the guest speaker at the launch of Southern Cross University’s Rising Stars Scholarship Program in Coffs Harbour today (October 29).

Mr Ducker was one of 10 children who, despite growing up in extreme poverty, is now a successful solicitor with one of Sydney’s leading law firms. In 2008 he received one of 26 Australian Leadership Awards, presented by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and this year released his first book ‘A Room at the Top’.

He will be in Coffs Harbour as an ambassador for the Rising Stars Scholarship program, which currently provides financial assistance to around 100 Southern Cross University students including 15 in the Coffs Harbour region.

Rising Stars Coffs Harbour advocate, solicitor Heather McKinnon, said she saw the Rising Stars Program as an important avenue for local businesses and individuals to support the education of local students.

"I have watched the level of education in the Coffs Harbour business community grow as a result of the University's presence. Many businesses employ Southern Cross University graduates and it is my belief that supporting scholarships for local students will create greater opportunities for our own kids to stay, study and then work in the Coffs Harbour region,” Ms McKinnon said.

Rebecca Park, Southern Cross University development officer, said the launch was an opportunity to bring together current scholarship recipients and supporters with other interested people in the community.

“We have strong support from businesses and individuals for this worthwhile program, but we are always looking for ways to increase the assistance we can provide to local students,” Ms Park said.

Mr Ducker will share the story of his educational journey, which involved him escaping from the chaos of his suburban home onto the rooftop of the house to study in order to progress through high school.

The support Heath received from a youth program and committed individuals in the community inspired him to overcome his own difficult background and use education as his ticket to success.

“Heath has an amazing story to tell about the power of education and we are delighted to have him as an ambassador for our program,” Ms Park said.

Photo opportunity: Heath Ducker and Heather McKinnon will be available for interview today at 2pm at the Coffs Harbour campus.