Adam Bonner, a fourth-year Commerce and Business Management student at UQ, gave a raw and touching account of his journey to attend university at the inaugural Celebration of Staff Giving.

Bonner, who received a Young Achievers Scholarship, recounted how it felt to learn he would be able to attend university.

“I remember the day I was accepted into the Young Achievers Program. It was morning tea at school late in 2011 and I got a phone call from my father. Now, I know I should not have had my phone at school, but I thought I should answer anyway. So I answered, and I realised Dad was crying.

“I asked what was wrong and he said ‘Adam, you’ve got the scholarship. You’re going to be able to go to university.’ Little did I know that this moment would change my life forever,” said Mr Bonner.

The Young Achievers Program is strongly supported by UQ staff donors. The scholarship supports students from participating Queensland state high schools who are identified as having the capacity for university studies, but who might not be on the path to enrolment due to financial hardship or other challenges.

Mr Bonner said he valued the opportunity to not only thank donors for their generosity, but explain why their support meant so much.

“I am so proud to stand before you today, as an example of someone who’s had the opportunity to realise his dreams as a result of your generous giving.”

Adam said his family always supported him, but there were significant barriers to him attending university.

“I come from humble beginnings. I was raised on a cattle farm just outside the small town of Stanthorpe, on the Southern Queensland border and I attended Stanthorpe State High School.

“While at school, I believed I had what it took to go to university – but my parents’ financial devastation spoke otherwise.

“My mother, the daughter of Italian immigrants, and my father, a truck driver, never wavered in their support of my dreams but they knew they would struggle to fund my education.

“Being accepted into the Young Achievers Program was an enormous source of pride and relief for my parents.

“The program empowered me with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel at school and created this undeniable motivation for me to realise my potential – and go to university. I felt like nothing could stop me.”

Mr Bonner had a powerful message for all staff donors.

“On behalf of all scholarship holders at The University of Queensland, thank you for your kindness and generosity and may you continue to be a source of empowerment for students just like me in the years to come,” he said.

Since its commencement in 2009, the Young Achievers Program has helped bring nearly 800 talented young Queenslanders closer to realising their educational dreams and aspirations. If you would like to know more about supporting this life-changing program - or about supporting other student scholarships through our Staff Giving program - please contact Dr Margaret Hammer at UQ Advancement on 3346 3900 or email