First Aspire students to graduate

A former Shepparton student is among the first group of students from La Trobe University’s popular Aspire Program – which recognises the positive impact individuals have on the community through volunteering and leadership – to complete his university studies.

Nathalia man Stephen Leitch, who was recognised for his contribution through sport while completing year 12 at Shepparton’s Notre Dame College, has just completed a Bachelor of Accounting at La Trobe’s Bundoora campus.

Stephen coached the under 12s and under 14s cricket teams at Waaia Cricket Club and was also involved in football umpiring while at high school. Stephen was also on the student council at Notre Dame College during year 12.

Stephen said his careers advisor mentioned the Aspire program to him, knowing how involved Stephen was in the community and that he was a prime applicant.

“The appeal to me was that it would give me an early offer. I thought that if I could get an early offer it would take the pressure off exams,” Stephen said.

Students accepted into the Aspire Program not only receive an early conditional offer in September, but also benefit from having their ATAR lowered for their chosen La Trobe degree prior to the completion of their exams. Stephen actually did not need the discount as he received above the required ATAR for the Bachelor of Accounting – he needed 70 and got 81 – but saw the appeal of Aspire to potential employers.

“It’s helped with a lot of my soft skills and preparing for employment. It’s helped me develop good time management skills, to balance these sort of commitments with social commitments, study and work.”
“It also helped my inter-personal skills as well, for example when communicating with various stakeholders,” Stephen said.

The volunteering didn’t stop once he received his offer. Stephen has been actively involved in the La Trobe Football Club at Bundoora during his studies through goal umpiring and water boy duties alongside playing commitments. He also took on the role of Vice President this year, where is duties included attending committee and league meetings, securing sponsorships and coordinating the inter-college football competition.

Shepparton Head of Campus Sue Nalder said La Trobe University was committed to ensuring students get the jobs they wanted, so they can forge a successful career and make a positive difference to the world in which we live.

“At La Trobe community contribution counts, which is why we want to recognise students who share our values through service that helps others,” Ms Nalder said.

Stephen is graduating from La Trobe University in April 2018 and has already secured a graduate position at leading accounting firm Crowe Horwath in Albury. He is thrilled to be walking into a job straight after university and credits this to taking up work experience while studying. Stephen was proactive; he was doing bookkeeping with a small business in Thornbury during his second year, and completed an internship with another accounting firm during his final year of study.

Stephen’s advice to anyone thinking of tertiary study after school is to apply for Aspire early. “Just go for it, you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s obviously important to try your best and get the best score you can, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the score that you really want or need because there are always other avenues you can take to get there in the end.”

La Trobe University will be hosting events on campus on Saturday 16 December for the upcoming Change of Preference period. Parents and students are encouraged to attend to discuss pathway options.

Students are also invited to take part in an enrichment program as part of Aspire that supports them through the final stages of high school and prepares them for university life. Such programs include VCE/HSC revision lectures and mentoring from a La Trobe student ambassador.

Stephen believes employers are looking for more than academic skills and his community work has helped him secure his job. “They want to know what sort of person you are, how you will fit into the culture of the company. You’ve got to stand out and have a point of difference,” Stephen said.

Students can learn more about the Aspire program by visiting:

Parents and students can learn more about the upcoming Change of Preference events here: