Elvis Gleeson

(OR2016)

 

The Bursary Program exists to extend a young man into the potential he never knew he had. I value these experiences not because they were pleasant, but because I came to appreciate their necessity in the passage to maturity. As someone who came into Sydney in awe of the silver and beige towers that sat along the sky, I can say confidently that it is not a matter of ability that separates someone born on the North Shore or in government housing, but rather a matter of belief. A bursary is an affirmation that you are willing to take a risk on a kid who just needed someone to believe in him, and that is one of the most simple and most human actions that anyone could ever make

It is easy to give a boy a trophy for sporting success or an award for academic merit. But to give a gift to a young man with very little to his name? Now that, that’s hard. But you do it, and continue to do so. That alone is a testament to courage and to a belief in God that transcends the superficial. In a world saturated by self-centric attitudes and feigned morals, such an act is a seed. A seed that will flower amidst the darkest borders of our future and provide a light where there is none. And we may hope that the garden and gardeners grow together. We may be separated by wealth, class and stereotypes, but despite that, we are one, unified, human family. I realised this during my time at Riverview and I hope to never forget it.

When I consider a vision of myself without these opportunities, I am confronted by a deeply troubling path that was almost a reality. You see, I lost my father when I was three years old and the only thing I longed for was to make mum proud. But by age 16, I wasn’t sure how I’d ever do that. My passion had been buried and I’d call myself a wanderer. There was one beacon though. Some strange force in the universe pulled me from my wallowing and brought me to a retired English teacher named Angela. Her husband, Roger, was an old boy. His push for me to make a bursary application was the most defining feature of my adolescence. I do not hold lightly the sacrifices and efforts that have placed me here, in fact, it is the very fuel that pushes me to live the Magis. As much as I can do, so much I will dare to do.

Today, I am the mouthpiece for the bursary recipients at this college. My experience and stories are only a few of the thousands that exist in the memory of Riverview. Each has their own achievements and struggles and we are proud to wear them as a community. I was going to thank you, but I don’t believe that truly captures what it means for someone like me to be given a chance like this. So I’m just going to smile, and I’m going to continue smiling because someone, somewhere, gave me a go.