By Danuta Kozaki
Parsa Rosa says the Smith Family has helped give her confidence during her studies.
First year university student Parsa Rose wants to be a leader in business or human resources when she finishes her double degree at the University of Technology in Sydney.
The 18-year-old has been part of a mentoring and scholarship program since Year 9, run by The Smith Family, one of the country's largest education-orientated charities.
A new report released today by The Smith Family shows long-term support over decades can help improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged children.
The research report looked into the success of the national scholarship program, Learning for Life.
The program, which can start in the first year of school and run through to the completion of tertiary education, provides a range of short programs, including in literacy and numeracy, as well as learning clubs, mentoring and career activities and digital and financial literacy initiatives for parents.
Ms Rose is one of 34,000 children taking part.
Originally from Pakistan, she came to Australia through New Zealand, and now lives in Sydney's west with her parents and two younger sisters.
"We were pretty new in Australia. I'm the first one in the Australian education system, with the HSC and so on," Ms Rose said.
"And that was one of the main things, I wanted to find out things on my own and experience things by myself and basically be the first one in my family."
As a student, Ms Rose said having a mentor gave her the confidence to keep going with her education.
"I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. It helped increase my confidence. I wanted to connect with the outside world," she said.
"My parents moved from Pakistan to give me and my sisters a better life, a better education.
"My parents were really supportive of that and the impact on my life. Education means everything to me."
Associate professor Debra Hayes, from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Education and Social Work, is a specialist on poverty and the devastating impact it can have on young people's participation and achievement.