Generosity helped Kasey find her feet in a difficult year

Thanks to Neville and Di Bertalli’s gift in 2011, the Bertalli Family Foundation has assisted seven rural students – including Kasey Bailey– through their studies. The scholarship’s financial assistance over a three-year period  enables students to thrive throughout their entire degree.

Kasey Bailey is reaching her full potential thanks to the Bertalli Family Foundation Scholarship. The support was particularly meaningful at a time when the pandemic isolated Kasey from her family and proved to be emotionally difficult.

Neville Bertalli graduated from Benalla High School in the 1960s before undertaking a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne. Now, through his gift, Mr Bertalli is helping other regionally-based high school graduates like himself overcome the barriers to attending university.

Here, Kasey describes how the scholarship assisted her through her studies.

Kasey Bailey

Kasey Bailey

“2021 was a challenging year. Like most people, I expected that it would hold some normality. It was intended to be my last year of university for my undergraduate degree and I was excited to reclaim some of the ‘lost’ time from 2020.

In January 2021, I started my part-time role as the youngest researcher and junior consultant in a firm called SGS Economics and Planning while also continuing my degree. This has been my first time applying my studies in a field of work and I am loving it. I think it is an incredible workplace and I am so proud to be part of it.

One of my biggest achievements in 2021 came from this work; at the age of 19, I was privileged to have an article published Australia-wide on the economic value of libraries. More recently, I also contributed to the annual release of the rental affordability index, a huge project SGS continually undertakes. My role was to collect data on annual income for government support schemes from 2011 to 2021. I am loving researching valuation methods and hope to continue in this area of economics.

I am grateful to have been offered a full-time consulting role upon graduation (which was expected to be this year). However, the reign of COVID-19 did not stop as predicted. I found the August 2021 outbreak a lot harder than previous ones and struggled a lot in the university system, trying to maintain the same standard of work while dealing with the emotional impact of the ongoing pandemic. This is probably a common story. I again lost the opportunity to play a season of premier league hockey for the University team and was shut out of the Northern Territory, away from my family.

To keep up with it all, I ended up under-loading and extending my degree by half a semester. This was the best choice for me, as it allowed me to pick subjects that I was interested in and devote more time to them.

Something I am particularly proud of from last year is my achievements in an Indigenous studies subject. I feel passionate about the role economics plays in recognition of Indigenous people and the possible improvements that could be developed to help change systemic issues ingrained in the field. I achieved a 92 on my essay regarding oppression of Indigenous knowledge in underlying economic methods, finishing up on a H1. I do hope to continue studying and researching this area and have been privileged to work on it outside of university within my work.

Moving forward, I am looking at cross-faculty study so I can pursue researching valuation of Indigenous knowledge. This would mean using my commerce degree for something that has been a big part of my upbringing and that I am passionate about.

The scholarship was especially helpful last year – the monetary value does not reflect at all the impact it has had on me as an individual. As I am living in my first share house and away from my family in the Northern Territory, the ongoing pandemic meant my ability to go home at the end of the year was not realistic; as such, I didn’t get to see family for Christmas. Instead, the scholarship put me in a financial position to go and see my grandfather in Queensland – where border restrictions were more relaxed – who I hadn’t seen for over two years.

It is hard to put into words the gratitude I have for the Bertalli family’s support in my studies. This gratitude is not just contained to 2021 but over the last three years of my undergraduate degree. The financial support has been a huge factor in turning a young 17-year-old, first-year student who was terribly homesick for Alice Springs (2019), to a future commerce graduate at the University of Melbourne (2021) who is now finding her feet in the workforce.

I am proud of what I have achieved through the Bachelor of Commerce and I thank the Bertallis for giving me this chance.”

Like Kasey, other recipients of the Bertalli Family Foundation Scholarship have gone on to forge their commerce careers and positively impact their communities – with many now employed at global organisations including KPMG, Suncorp Group, and environmental initiative TerraCycle.

The Bertalli family’s generosity will continue to make a difference in the lives of aspiring commerce graduates from rural areas. The scholarship’s most recent recipient started receiving support for the duration of her studies in 2021,  with more students set to benefit from their generosity in  years to come.

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