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Family bonds inspire Renee's community spirit

Renee Briggs is all too aware of how quickly circumstances can change everything.

This occurred tragically in 2017 when Renee’s beloved grandfather passed away suddenly. With her grieving grandmother requiring constant support, 25-year-old Renee stepped into the role of full-time carer.

Though she did so without question, increasing stresses around time and finances meant Renee soon had to question her capacity to continue studying at Griffith University. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Public Health in Health Promotion and Public Health Nutrition.

All of which makes her determination, performance and potential so admirable, and explains why Renee has received an Abedian Foundation Griffith Futures Scholarship.

Thanks to the support of Gold Coast developer and philanthropist Mr Soheil Abedian and his wife Mrs Anne Abedian, these scholarships are presented to Gold Coast-based students achieving excellent results despite the challenges of financial or personal disadvantage.

A proud Indigenous woman from the Kamilaroi tribe, Renee grew up within a close-knit community in Moree, NSW.

“I moved to the Gold Coast when I was nine because my mum wanted my brother and me to have the best education possible,” says Renee.

“I have faced many hurdles in my life, but I’ve never let them define me or stop me from achieving my goals and dreams. I’m very ambitious and, once I set my mind to something, I have to see it through and be the best person I can be in the process.”

To that end, Renee’s scholarship is all the more invaluable.

“I couldn’t be a full-time student without it. It means so much to me, to my family, and to all I hope to achieve in my career in public health,” she says.

Caring for her grandmother is giving Renee an intimate insight into the health and wellbeing needs of the elderly in the community. It has also fired her desire to contribute in the wider indigenous community, especially regarding diabetes.

“I have lost many close family members to diabetes and diabetes-related illnesses,” says Renee. “I want to bring greater awareness on the severity of diabetes for Indigenous Australians, especially in remote communities.

“I’d love to return home to Moree, but I’ll go where the need takes me.”

It’s a noble aim and, thanks to Renee’s scholarship, one she can seek with renewed commitment and confidence.

“Without this support, the simple fact is that I am not at University. I don’t take this generosity lightly. I plan to pay it forward.”