ELIJAH Fountain is breaking down barriers with the goal of helping people, after receiving a scholarship to study at university.
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The Narromine achiever is the inaugural recipient of the Glenray Commitment Scholarship, which was introduced to support people with a disability in gaining a tertiary education.
After living in a respite house with his mum for 12 months, Mr Fountain decided he wanted to pursue a career where he could help people - and he wasn't going to let having autism get in the way.
"I really loved developing a relationship with clients but I was not a fan of the cleaning duties, I couldn't really handle that part," he said.
"So I thought doing clinical psychology would be a good compromise and I would be helping people in the best way I could."
About three months into his studies at Charles Sturt University (CSU) Bathurst, Mr Fountain is really enjoying this new chapter of his life.
While it's his first time away from home - having grown up in Narromine - Mr Fountain says he's incredibly appreciative for the opportunity and to have received the scholarship.
"It's really good, I feel really happy and I'm very excited to see what happens," he said.
Mr Fountain said the scholarship is a really good idea and he expects it will help numerous others living with a disability to secure a university degree.
"I think it's really important. When I was looking online for CSU there wasn't a lot of disability scholarships in general and a lot of them were for physical ailments," he said.
"So because I've got an invisible disability - autism - it was very hard to find something that could help my needs that way. So having something like this [scholarship] was really good."
When he has completed his psychology degree, Mr Fountain would love to work anywhere in the Central West and support people in regional areas with their mental health.
Having firsthand experience of how difficult it can be to find mental health support in rural areas, Mr Fountain hopes he can fill the gap for a community.
Glenray marketing manager Elisa Miller said the organisation is very proud to offer the scholarship, especially after seeing the high demand of applicants, and they're looking forward to helping more young people achieve their goals.
"Just through the application process, the variety of people applying for the scholarship showed us there's so many people trying to get a degree," Ms Miller said.
"They've got their own struggles, they've got their own challenges that they're trying to overcome and this scholarship will go a long way to helping them achieve that."
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