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Jacob Dennis is excited to be named the inaugural recipient of the CEF Rising Star Alumni Award. It is fitting recognition of his passion, dedication and the very bright future he has ahead. A proud Gamilaraay man, Jacob received a CEF of Walgett grant in 2017 after overcoming many hurdles. Since then he has proved that perseverance is the key to success.

With a powerful connection to the land and his home community in Walgett, Jacob, now living with family in Canberra, says, “The city feels like a foreign landscape that I will never completely adapt to”. He is studying environmental science and law online, and working with the Australian Government Clean Energy Regulator, where he is focussed on the environment and working toward a clean and sustainable future. This year he received a 2018 Innovation Award for his contribution to an Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed IT project.

Jacob’s current career is a big change from the one he began after school. He knew the teachers at Walgett Community College believed in him and he was encouraged to undertake an 18-month course so he could attend university to study medicine. He says the work and study he is doing now is very much aligned with his cultural and personal values as an Aboriginal man. When explaining his goal to one day move home to Walgett to share his experience and knowledge, he says he feels “an unshakeable responsibility to lift my community up in any way I can”.

Jacob says, “when people from rural areas leave to pursue higher education there is often a longing for home and a disconnect that people feel over time.” He knows from experience that when CEF provides assistance and touches base, it is a reminder that you have community support. That’s often enough to give an extra push to follow your career path.

What advice would Jacob give to young students from the country unsure about study after school? “Go for it. Live your best life. Take every opportunity you can and never say no to an adventure.”


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