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HOW LITTLE GIRL SCARLETT DRIVES LUKE’S DEGREE DREAM

To say Bachelor of Psychological Science student Luke Jones brings a wealth of life experience to the university classroom borders on understatement.

In the second year of his degree and with a GPA of seven, Luke (25) has already dealt with homeless as a teen and becoming a single father at 19.

“I grew up on the streets from the age of 12 to 18. I slept in parks mostly which was hard. Most nights I just didn’t sleep,” says Luke.

“My daughter lost her mother from her life when she was one. I had a pretty full on experience of fatherhood. I haven’t had a night off in four years, but I love Scarlett and every part of being a Dad. We make a great team.”

When Scarlett started prep, Luke rediscovered his own ‘intrinsic motivation’ to renew his interrupted education journey and was the inspiration behind him pursuing a degree at Griffith.

At University he found his passion for psychology but the financial strain of university and being a single parent pushed him to the brink.

“Financially I was not coping. Trying to rent by yourself is a nightmare, half my income goes towards rent and the other half goes toward everything else you need to survive,” he says.

Receiving the Griffith Futures Scholarship was ‘monumental’ for Luke, giving him enough funds to buy a desperately needed car.

“The scholarship meant I could continue university because I wasn’t going to be able to without it. I wouldn’t be here, it pushed me to keep on working.

“Trying to balance going to uni, working as a PASS [Peer assisted study sessions] leader, and picking up Scarlett at school and travelling home again was overwhelming, it wasn’t working, but with a cheap car, I can actually be here.”

Luke hopes to become a child psychologist and studies with a framed photo of his little girl beside him.

“I’ve received great support from Griffith, especially through disability services which helped me deal with PTSD and studying full-time,” he says.

“My teachers are very passionate about their subjects and make the learning experience very applicable to life.

“I’ve had a pretty complicated life so far. I’ve been told by teachers this kind of first-hand experience can be very useful as a psychologist to connect and communicate with people.”

“I hope to use all the bad experiences in my life to try and ensure children don’t have similar experiences to some of mine.”

Luke says he looks forward to working in a profession where he can help children and believes the key to life is kindness.

“There isn’t enough kindness in the world and if you can spread it, you create a ripple effect. If one person is kind, then someone else will be kind. I choose to always be kind.”

The scholarship has helped change Luke’s life as well as other students experiencing financial or personal hardship.

“I’m very grateful to Griffith and the supporters of this scholarship and would like to personally thank every single person who contributes to giving financially disadvantaged students a better chance of succeeding at university. What you do for us makes a huge difference and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity,” he says.

“When I found out the Griffith Futures Scholarship was funded by donations it brought a tear to my eye knowing people care about our future that much. Every bit helps students like me, who have been thrown a bunch of curve balls in life, but still want to succeed and do well, while providing for their kids.

“Uni is a way to do that, but it can be really scary financially because you don’t know how you are going to be able to afford text books, or how you will get to class, or buy food. The scholarship takes some of that load off and means you can focus more on the things you need to be doing. I’m not the only person here because of the scholarship. It’s life changing.”