Andrea Evans-McCall’s Churchill Fellowship is bringing her a step closer to changing education in Gippsland and removing barriers to employment.
Think big. Make a difference. That’s exactly what Bass Coast local Andrea Evans-McCall did and now her passion to remove barriers to employment is taking her across the world.
Andrea is one of the lucky recipients of the Churchill Fellowship which will see her investigate employability skills development in inclusive learning environments.
“All I needed was a push to gain the confidence to do the most amazing things,” Andrea said.
The platform that propelled her to fulfill her dream came from Change Makers - a nine-day Community Leadership Program organised by South Gippsland Shire Council. With funding from the Stronger Regional Communities Program, 19 participants with similar desires were encouraged to map out their dreams to make a difference in the community.
Andrea spent 30 years as an educator in South Gippsland and New Zealand, leading programs for students with disabilities. It was rewarding work for her and she now works at the newly opened Country Universities Centre Bass Coast, in Wonthaggi, with a focus on inclusion in her teaching.
“Change Makers really opened our minds to what was possible without limitations and from there, a light bulb turned on,” Andrea said.
“I heard about the Churchill Fellowship and knowing they only award 100 fellowships each year from near to a thousand applications, it was a little intimidating to even consider applying.”
As her passion shone through from feeling empowered after participating in Change Makers, Andrea’s fears faded and she went on to claim a 2020 Churchill Fellowship.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Andrea’s Fellowship was delayed and her journey overseas is now planned to take place in August 2022.
She will travel to the USA, Finland and the United Kingdom to investigate similar education models to Australia and experience different innovative programs across TAFE, schools and universities.
Andrea’s focus will be on developing employability skills for young people with a disability in inclusive learning environments from both community and educational settings.
“My view will be to see what lessons and insights can be brought back to inform practice in Australia,” she said.
“My learnings will build upon existing work of Gippsland’s I Am Ready pilot program, while bringing home understanding where this work sits globally.”
The Churchill Fellowship allows Fellows to “learn globally and inspire locally.”
“I can see the benefit that equal access to education can bring for our regional areas,” Andrea said.
“Making a change starts with one person.”