"When a 20 year old walks into a room and they are confident, they are poised and they know what they want, you know that the next generation of Indigenous leaders are safe. They're confident, educated and they are going to do amazing things," reflects Andrew Olsen, KPMG's Indigenous Employment Consultant.
Andrew is a panellist for the KPMG Indigenous Pathway Scholarship which was recently awarded to Chancellor’s Scholar and Bachelor of Arts student Paris Mordecai.
Paris says she was drawn to apply for the scholarship by KPMG’s dedication to Indigenous reconciliation.
"It's so good working with a business that has such an influence and such a dedication to Indigenous reconciliation. When I read that on the website it completely inspired me. I think it's very rare that big businesses and big organisations have that commitment to grass roots change," Paris explained.
The KPMG Indigenous Pathway Scholarship is for Australian Indigenous students. The two-year scholarship is designed to promote tertiary study and develop young Indigenous leaders by alleviating financial pressures and providing professional opportunities to intern with KPMG.
With her interest in sociology Paris plans to intern with KPMG's Human Rights & Social Impact arm, Banarra. She believes it is essential for businesses to consider their impacts within sociocultural fields.
"Providing scholarships such as this, getting Indigenous kids involved with business is so important. Without the scholarship I may never have considered it. Having that sort of encouragement and having someone like Andrew connecting you is so valuable. I can't wait to see where this takes me, I feel like the scholarship and the internship is just the beginning," Paris said.
The KPMG Indigenous Pathway Scholarship was developed in consultation with the Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development Murrup Barak. Kiernan Ironfield - Team Leader Indigenous Student Success sees the potential for the scholarship to help encourage students to grow academically and professionally.
"The KPMG Pathways Scholarship not only provides financial assistance but also the opportunity to be linked in with a professional services firm for employment throughout a student’s studies. For the recipient of this year’s scholarship, Paris Mordecai, working at KPMG will give her an opportunity to gain professional experience in a division that is of interest to her and will encourage her to continue asking the challenging questions," Kiernan reflected.
Supporting the next generation of Indigenous leaders
KPMG Indigenous Employment Consultant Andrew Olsen says the scholarship is more than financial support; it's about the potential to make dreams a reality.
"In some way we play a small part in changing people's lives. The scholarship is a foundation for recipients to build on." Andrew said.
Paris is a second year Bachelor of Arts Chancellor’s Scholar majoring in Criminology and Gender Studies. "My favourite subject of my whole degree has been Aboriginal Women and Coloniality - I love that intersection," Paris explains.
The Trinity College resident says if her first year was good her second year has been even better.
"Coming from a small country town you can be quite limited in terms of your exposure to opinions and life experiences. Coming here to Melbourne, having all of these diverse people surrounding you in a classroom, is an amazing experience, it's been incredible," Paris said.
A bright future ahead
It might only be her second year as an undergraduate but Paris is already considering pursuing academia and hopes to continue to mentor other young Indigenous students.
"This year I have become a mentor for the Aspiring Scholars Program. It’s a role that I love and something that I would love to be a part of my future career."
"I am passionate not only about leadership, but mentorship as well. A particular area of interest for me that I hope to continue to involve myself in is Indigenous education, excellence and mentorship," Paris stated in her application for the scholarship.
KPMG's Andrew Olsen is confident that Paris has a bright future ahead of her.
"I'm thrilled that KPMG can be associated with Paris. We are fortunate that KPMG can play a small part in helping her with her dreams. The future is really bright for her," he said.
Title photo: Paris Mordecai, Aspiring Scholars Program mentor and KPMG Indigenous Pathway Scholarship recipient.