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‘Scholarships are a significant source of my income to sustain myself and my studies,’
says Mark Jay from the small, close-knit community of Coleambally in NSW.

As the eldest of four, and with siblings fighting medical challenges, the financial strain on Mark and his family would be so much more without the CEF grant and Findex Community Fund (FCF) – CEF scholarship he has received.

Now in his second year as a student at the University of Wollongong studying a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Communications and Media, his goal is to one day be the CEO of his own successful business.

Mark says he owes his strong values and determination to achieve his goals to his parents however, it is also very clear that he is a young man who was born to do great things.


At age 17, he undertook an Outwardbound Navigator course to ‘develop my leadership skills and learn how to endure difficult challenges.’

He regularly participates in volunteer work with the rural fire service, doing everything from organising the local Santa run to attending house fires.

Mark’s desire to give back to community and those in need is overwhelming and contagious.

In 2020 he founded a rock climbing club which provides the opportunity for anyone, regardless of their circumstances, to try out the sport.

In doing this, he is able to share the feeling of achievement he says is ‘unlike another’, with others and inspire them to challenge themselves.

These endeavours show the natural leadership in Mark, and are no doubt some of the many reasons he received an award for Outstanding Leadership from the Education Director, and was the perfect choice for a FCF – CEF Scholarship for 2021.

The attitude of challenging myself is something that I strive to achieve in all areas of my life.


Findex Community Fund are again partnering with CEF in 2021 to provide 6 x $3,000 scholarships to students undertaking a finance, commerce or business-related degree.

As part of the application process, students were asked to ‘pitch’ themselves. Here is an excerpt from Mark’s response, one that well and truly had him on the shortlist from the start:

‘Hello, I am Mark Jay, a student looking to make an impact and difference in rural and regional communities. Being born and growing up in a rural and regional community I have been instilled with a set of values that dictate the path that I walk today.  This set of values is comprised of characteristics like empathy, leadership, integrity, determination, loyalty and a strong work ethic. Growing up in these areas I hope to improve the opportunities I was presented with, and bring more opportunities and experiences to those who have had a similar experience to myself. ‘


Mark says the members of CEF Coleambally/Darlington Point go above and beyond to assist students from the region.

Not only do they provide financial grants, but also much needed and invaluable guidance and mentorship.

Speaking very highly of the foundation who has provided him with multiple years of support he says, ‘ I could not have been more fortunate to have the foundation of Coleambally.’

Like so many students who receive funding from CEF, he says the financial assistance means he has the resources he needs to concentrate on achieving grades that he can be proud of.

Mark’s demanding schedule not only makes finding part-time work hard, but also make achieving a work-life balance difficult.

But, just as a true leader would, he as shown incredible initiative and already taken one huge leap toward his dreams of being a CEO and of giving back to the community.

I believe that giving students from rural and regional areas a network of individuals from similar circumstances is a brilliant initiative to be involved in.


The launch of Jay Journalism with the tagline ‘Communicate to Create Change’ was one of Mark’s biggest achievements last year.

He shares insights on communications related topics including comments on current affairs, research papers and social media campaigns.

He hopes this information will help people who are seeking employment and career development. The goal he says, is to ‘help address unemployment rates in Australia’.

It is pretty safe to say that with his knowledge, thoughtfulness and dedication at just 19 years of age, Mark Jay is a name you need to remember.


Author Nicole

CEF Engagement & Development

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