Life-changing scholarship for Dana

State Education Minister James Merlino has praised a Mirboo North Secondary College student for overcoming adversity.

Mr Merlino met with 18 year-old Dana Flahavin in Morwell yesterday, to hear of how receiving the annual R.M Ansett Trust Scholarship saw her become dux of her school in 2014.

The scholarship is awarded annually to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to stay at school.

Three years ago – when Ms Flahavin was in year 10 – her father died, and then her brother died in a car accident four months later.

“This is about the triumph of the human spirit and determination,” Mr Merlino said.

“It’s an extraordinary story of the transformational power of education and the support Dana received.”

Ms Flahavin said the R.M. Ansett Trust Scholarship of $5000 per year in her last three years of high school, enabled her to do a four-week German exchange and work experience at Australia Zoo in Queensland.

She also initiated a ‘Change Your World Day’ event at her school, marked by inspirational speakers Melbourne City councillor and ‘Kids teaching Kids’ founder Arron Woods and Gippsland adventurer and author, Tim Cope.

Without the scholarship, Ms Flahavin said she would be “a lot further back” and still the shy little girl not doing anything.

“It enabled me to live out my current dreams and follow my passions and do what I want to do,” Ms Flahavin said.

Ms Flahavin is set to travel to Asia this year before starting a Bachelor of Arts and Science at Monash University in 2016.