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From homelessness to higher education

May 12, 2022

Dr Daryl McPhee on his Island Class expedition to North Stradbroke Island.

It was education that helped lift academic Daryl McPhee out of homelessness to become an internationally recognised expert in his field of environmental management. 

Now the Associate Professor from Bond University’s Faculty of Society and Design is supporting students to follow their dreams through his philanthropy. 

Dr McPhee will provide three bursaries of $2000 each to ensure Study Abroad students can afford to experience a true taste of Australian culture and learning at his annual Island Class, a field trip to North Stradbroke Island. 

It’s an example he hopes others will follow during Bond University’s Giving Day 2022 on Wednesday, May 18.

Dr McPhee said his motivation to give back came from the opportunities he received as a young man struggling with homelessness as a result of family tragedy. 

“My father committed suicide when I was young and my mother was an alcoholic who was unable to provide the care most parents provide,” he said. 

“The change in my life came from recognising for myself that I could do better, but that to do better I needed two things – a drive to succeed and an opportunity. 

“That opportunity and guidance came from a couple of my high school teachers who helped me change my assumption that university wasn’t the place for someone like me.” 

For financially disadvantaged students, getting into university is often only half the battle. Field trips or other extra-curricular experiences are often out of reach.

Dr McPhee wants to see that change to ensure as many students as possible can have an authentic Australian learning experience when they study abroad. 

His ‘Island Class’ involves students spending a week on North Stradbroke Island undertaking environmental field analysis of rainforest and coastal regions. It allows them to develop a deep understanding of Indigenous culture and practices on the island and its unique flora and fauna. 

“I spent a lot of time talking to students about what their biggest hardship is in terms of studying abroad and outside of the cost of actually getting here it’s making sure that when they do, they can actually experience the country itself, rather than just attending classes and spending time in their rooms,” he said. 

“That’s why I decided to initiate these bursaries - to help those students gain all the benefits they can from their university experience in Australia. 

“I also really hope my giving encourages others to consider how much impact they can have on students through making a donation, even a small amount.”

Click here to contribute to Bond University’s Giving Day 2022.