March brought crisp blue skies and the red leaves of autumn to Western Sydney University’s campuses. The cool change and start of the academic year also welcomed the first Crescent Foundation Leadership Summit, held at Western’s Parramatta City Campus.
The prestigious event introduced some of Western’s high-achieving refugee scholarship recipients and refugee students to high-profile supporters of the University. The diverse and accomplished speakers included The Hon Bob Carr, Ming Long AM, Craig Foster AM, and Professor Talal Yassine OAM. They generously shared their stories, including adversities overcome, achievements made and advice for up-and-coming leaders of the next generation.
Crescent Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Crescent Wealth, is a powerful advocate for Western’s refugee students, who generously started the Crescent Foundation Leadership Scholarship. Crescent Wealth’s founder and Managing Director, Professor Talal Yassine OAM, also established the Ali Yassine Equity Scholarship and Fatma Yassine Equity Scholarship for Women in honour of his parents who migrated to Australia as refugees.
Some of Western’s most determined students are our refugee scholarship recipients, who have overcome great adversity to access and thrive in higher education. Describing why Crescent Foundation believes it is vital to support refugee students, Dr Sayd Farook, Managing Director, says
“Refugees are some of the most overlooked, have ever gone through some of the most difficult life challenges to get to where they are, whether it’s conflict, economic or whatever else. They come to a new environment, where they are at an almost disadvantaged situation, because despite their determination, and willpower, and the like, they may have language barriers, cultural barriers, and a whole lot of other things, including network barriers as well, because they don't know anything about this place.
Helping them can have a huge impact not only on those individuals themselves, but also on the communities from which they come. And that, to our point, helps them integrate, and also assimilate within Australia in a far more effective way than anything else. And imbue the spirit that is Australian”.
Speaking at the event, Craig Foster AM, encouraged students to keep community and social responsibility in mind, broadening the idea of success beyond financial achievement.
Crescent Foundation Leadership Summit speakers included:
- Professor Talal Yassine OAM, Founder and Managing Director of Crescent Wealth, Non-Executive Director of Crescent Finance, and Media Diversity Australia. Member of Western Sydney University’s Foundation Council and Non-Executive Director, The Whitlam Institute. Talal also serves as Chair of First Quay Capital and Chair of LandCorp Australia.
- The Hon Bob Carr, Former Foreign Minister, Former Premier of NSW and Chair of the Crescent Foundation
- Dr Sayd Farook, Managing Director, Crescent Finance and Executive Director, Crescent Foundation
- Ming Long AM, Chair and Non-Executive Director of AMP Capital Funds Management Limited and Chair of Diversity Council of Australia
- Craig Foster AM, Director, Crescent Foundation, Adjunct Professor of Sports and Social Responsibility at Torrens University, Sports Analyst and retired Socceroo. Sits on Multicultural Council of Australia.
- Amen Zoabi, Director, Crescent Foundation, and Managing Director and Co-Founder, Binah Group and Binah Constructions
- Professor James Arvanitakis, Executive Director, Australian American Fulbright Commission. Previously Pro Vice Chancellor (Engagement and Advancement), Western Sydney University.
- Elsi Samano, Western Bachelor of Medical Science graduate, Crescent Foundation Leadership Scholarship recipient and current Master of Public Health candidate at Sydney University, was Master of Ceremonies.
Ming Long AM, Chair and Non-Executive Director of AMP Capital Funds Management Limited, advised students:
“Do not overlook people like yourselves in your career path. Make sure you listen to people who are different to you”.
While our speakers were offering advice to students on that rainy autumn morning in Parramatta, their words can be applied to all Western students who are looking to find their place in life.