GO Scholar Mitch Gibbs is in his final year (and final stages) of his PhD in Marine Biology at the University of Sydney.  His work involves looking at the inter-generational effects of climate change. Mitch is a talented young man with a bright future that just a few months ago was on very shaky ground.

“My family is from Kempsey on the NSW north coast, part of the Dunghutti nation,” Mitch explains. “After school I moved to Sydney to study forensic science at the University of Western Sydney.  I then did my Honours year and began my PhD, before moving to USyd to continue it.”

“While I was studying, Dad was diagnosed with cancer, and I was driving up and back to Kempsey every couple of weeks to see him.  I felt terrible being in Sydney away from family, and he felt terrible with me not being in Sydney working towards my goal,” he says. “I’m the first in my family to go to uni, and it’s of huge importance to him that I finish what I’ve started.”

Adding to the family’s stress, the Gibbs family home on 100 acres outside Kempsey was destroyed in the bush fires last summer.  Straight away, life became even more difficult.  “I was trying to study, help Dad and help clear the land so we could rebuild.  It was all happening at once.”

29-year-old Mitch was also working part-time in the USyd Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s office developing indigenous curriculum, but COVID-19 put an end to that work.  At a financial and emotional crossroads, he applied for and was granted a special GO Foundation scholarship, which he says has been lifechanging. “Without it I wouldn’t have been able to finish my PhD, because I would have had to get a job,” says Mitch. “Also, I wouldn’t have been able to go home and see Dad without this support.  All these things that are so important to me, the GO scholarship has allowed me to do. It’s amazing.”