“I’m just a country kid trying to have a go in the city and would love all the help I can get.”
When you meet Oscar Cheal, before he even speaks a word, you can tell he is humble and hard-working, ready to do what it takes to achieve his goals.
Bachelor of Business (Accounting, management and economics)
University of Technology Sydney (UTS)
Year of study:
St Andrews College
CAANZ – CEF Scholarship
LIFE IN LIGHTNING RIDGE
Oscar grew up in Lightning Ridge NSW – affectionately called ‘The Ridge’ by people from the town and surrounding regions.
His Dad is an opal miner in the outback town, and Oscar works with him searching for the precious stones that are worth more than their weight in gold. They even featured in a recent episode of ‘Outback Opal Hunters,’ an experience he really enjoyed.
Dad also operates a road train, however with the prolonged drought, Oscar says that his father hasn’t been able to generate income during harvest for years.
His mother, who once worked as an opal cutter and currently for the Walgett PCYC, was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. She has been undergoing harsh radiation and chemotherapy treatments. While she is currently doing well, it has been a long journey and placed extraordinary strain on the family, both financially and emotionally.
With an older brother and a younger sister, his parents made the decision to send the kids to boarding school feeling it was ‘the right thing to do for their futures’. Oscar has a great relationship with his parents and is grateful for the quality education he received; but knows it also placed his parents under additional financial stress.
Oscar has been financially independent from his parents, supporting himself since the day he left school.
There is a hint of perfectionism about him. Currently in his 2nd year of a Bachelor of Business, majoring in accounting management and economics at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Oscar loves his study, especially the challenging accounting subjects that will allow him to seek work in this industry one day.
Although happy with his final semester marks of two distinctions and two credits amidst the challenges of COVID and online learning, he is adamant that his aim is to achieve a distinction average going forward.
Oscar works several jobs to keep his head above water. Along with mining opals, he is a boarding supervisor, rugby and cricket coach at Knox Grammar School and also undertook labouring work over the summer for GrainCorp at the silos.
Oscar says like most country kids, one of the biggest challenges he faced in the transition to university was learning to manage his finances, particularly as a young person from the bush.
He acknowledges that balancing all his obligations, and engaging in university life can often feel ‘quite overwhelming and full-on’.
And this is why the scholarships Oscar received are so very important to him.
I often struggle to complete everything to the standard I would like, as I need to work to pay for college and fund general finances. Essentially, I’m trying as hard as I can to support myself but it is certainly not easy.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
“Despite all these accolades Oscar remains very grounded. He knows hard work and he understands the struggle to make ends meet. He is overwhelmed and extremely grateful for all that CEF has done for him. He is good bloke and he’ll continue to do well and be a great ambassador for the Foundation.”
Andrew Dunlop, Treasurer – CEF Walgett
Oscar was encouraged to get in touch with CEF Walgett by his older brother Rory, who also received support from the local foundation and had such a wonderful experience with them.
CEF Walgett and the CEF national office were so taken with Oscar’s dedication, determination and talent, that not only did he receive a local grant from CEF Walgett, he was also awarded a St Andrews – CEF accommodation scholarship and is now the inaugural recipient of our CAANZ – CEF Scholarship.
For him the scholarship is not just about the financial support. He says even in the short time since he was awarded the scholarship it has opened up a plethora of opportunities for him in the accounting and business world saying ‘I have already met individuals who have excelled in the accounting industry and who are willing to help me with the start of my career.’
“Oscar was the perfect choice as the first recipient of the first CAANZ-CEF scholarship. He is a young man with a very clear vision for his future. Oscar is currently studying a Bachelor of Business at UTS, majoring in accounting, management and economics and has just commenced his second year. Oscar wants to pursue a career in accounting, become a chartered accountant and then move into managerial roles. He demonstrates strong leadership skills with humility and his values and integrity will hold him in good stead.”
Pamela Lee, FCA – Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand
He says the assistance has enabled him to focus on his study, and to make the most of life in Sydney.
Part of this is living at St Andrews College. He says experiencing the social life and the culture at college has allowed him to create new relationships with a wide range of people.
He has taken on several leadership roles within the college community and is actively engaged in almost everything, from performing arts to rugby union and athletics.
Anyone you speak with who knows Oscar agrees, there is no one more deserving of this support and these opportunities than him.
“We are immensely proud of Oscar. His role as student mentor, and his engagement with all facets of College life, from sports to the creative arts, is a testament to his exceptionalism and will inarguably stand him in good stead as he pursues a future in Business and Accounting.”
Wayne Erickson, Principal – St Andrews College
A TRUE CHAMPION FOR CEF
Oscar says CEF offers such amazing information on how to transition to life in Sydney, meet new people, manage studies, finance and so much more through resources like the Scholarships Guide and the ‘Make it Possible’ Hub.
And as the true leader he is, he believes it is ‘extremely important for me to stay connected with the CEF family and offer advice on my experiences’.
He says every country student should utilise what’s available from their local CEF. Not just the financial support but the ‘amazing advice and information offered on the website’.
Being from a small country town, it’s quite easy to get comfortable and stay in your community, however, pursuing higher education is an unreal way to move to a different place and learn new things.
And when Oscar does speak, his gratitude for his family, the support he is receiving from CEF and for the opportunities he has been afforded is not only clear from the words you have read, but also the incredible smile that spreads across his face.
- Best playlist for concentrating?
- Favourite place for coffee?
Anywhere, I love my coffee
- Last book you read?
The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape
- Fantasy study group with any 5 people?
Elon Musk, Joe Rogan, Steve Irwin, Matty Johns and Carl Barron
- How would you spend your last $10?
OPAL HAUL HELPS PAY FOR COLLEGE
Remember we mentioned that Oscar and his father featured on an episode of Outback Opal Hunters? Check out this clip from the show: