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Community Services Brings Its Own Reward


27 May 2020

Brendan Van der Meer lives his life by a Dr. Seuss quote, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It's not.” It’s this philosophy that helped him to win Box Hill Institute’s Degree Student of the Year Award.

Winning the award had made Brendan feel like his hard work has paid off and that the extra effort he made has been recognised. He said, “I was so proud of myself. After I told my wife, I jumped straight on the phone to my 90-year-old Grandma to brighten her day.”

Brendan won the award 18 months into a Bachelor of Community Services.  He has five foster children and hoped the course could help him understand the best way to raise them. He said, “I began this course to get more information about the child protection system and community support to gain the knowledge I needed to help my five foster children through life.”

Brendan believes the best part of studying at Box Hill Institute is discovering more about himself and learning from peers in the classroom. He said, “[I’m] learning about myself in ways I have never thought of before and learning from the multicultural people in class discussions.

“Before I began the degree, I thought I knew it all already. Box Hill Institute’s lecturers have opened up a whole new toolbox within me that I never knew existed,” he said.

Box Hill Institute’s lectures have had a big impact on Brendan. He had been running his own business as a qualified carpenter for eight years before deciding to take two years off to be a stay at home dad. He said the most interesting thing he has learnt throughout his studies is the effects of white male privilege and white fragility.

Brendan’s determination is impressive and he leaves us with this advice, “Don't stop until you're proud and don’t wait until the end of the degree to start making a difference in the community.”