CEF Yass Valley Celebrates 25 Years

Written by: The Yass Phoenix


Country Education Foundation (CEF) of Yass Valley will become the second foundation to celebrate its 25th anniversary later this year.

Preparations are already underway for a celebratory cocktail party at the Yass Golf Club on November 25 to which all past and present students, committee members and donors would be invited.

Founded by Katie Walker in 1998, CEF Yass Valley was the second local foundation of the national CEF network to form.

The first was established in 1993 by Julia and Nick Burton Taylor. Mrs Walker currently serves as the local foundation’s secretary and is also a director on the CEF Australia Board.

Since forming in 1998, CEF Yass Valley has awarded over 360 individual grants valued at almost $450,000.

Formerly known as the Yass District Education Foundation, it was the first local CEF foundation to partner with the Australian National University, with former Yass Mayor and YDEF committee member Nic Carmody leading the charge on securing the first formal funding arrangement with the ANU.

This helped kickstart CEF Australia’s national university partnership program which now includes 17 university partners nationwide.

CEF Yass Valley Chair Fiona Gorham, who has been on the committee for 10 years and served as Chair for the last three, said it had been instrumental in providing encouragement and practical support to local students in undertaking their chosen education path.

“There have been an amazing range of courses undertaken by our students in the 25 years - archaeology, forensic and computer science, commercial interior design, as well as engineering, agriculture, teaching and health studies, just to name a few,” Ms Gorham said.

“It is uplifting that a number of our former students have returned to the district and are prospering in their chosen fields.”

“We are proud to be a member of the CEF family and look forward to supporting the educational hopes and dreams of Yass Valley students long into the future.”

Yass local Madeline Davis is one of hundreds of students to have received funding from CEF Yass Valley over the past 25 years, with the foundation helping to make her law degree studies possible.

Ms Davis completed a five-year Bachelor of Law degree at the University of Canberra in 2022.

She received support from CEF Yass Valley for each of the first four years of her studies, totalling $13,400, which she used primarily to cover costs of textbooks and fuel for frequent travel between Yass and Canberra.

With a significant change in family circumstances two years into her studies, she said not only was the financial support from CEF Yass Valley important to her, but also their ongoing emotional support.

“Simultaneous with the financial support from YDEF, the generosity of CEF enabled me to have a better work, life, and study balance which I think is really important to maintain during these years when dedicating so much of your time to your studies,” Ms Davis said.

“I know firsthand that this can be an incredibly difficult balancing act for many students who may be working multiple jobs to support their studies,” she said.

“The support from CEF can be life changing for some people.

“Young people considering further study should not be deterred from pursuing their goals because of the financial burden and considerations associated with further study.”

Since graduating from the University of Canberra Ms Davis worked at a law firm in Canberra as a Law Graduate in Dispute Resolution and Litigation while completing a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, after which she worked as a lawyer.

She is now looking forward to giving back to her hometown in starting a new position at a local law firm in Yass.

“In hindsight, the support I received from CEF to complete my degree has helped to open up opportunities that come with the degree and to network with like-minded people,” she said.

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