Moree's Denzel Tighe has a bright future ahead of him, after recently graduating from the University of Sydney.
The 23-year-old grew up in Moree, going to both Kiah and Aussie Kids of Moree preschools and St Philomena's School in primary before accepting a Yalari Scholarship to attend St. Ignatius College Riverview along with his cousin Alex Barker for his secondary education.
At Riverview he excelled in rowing and rugby union and undertook managing the Riverview 1st XV rugby union team while completing year 12, which ignited his passion for managing and coaching sporting teams.
He was successful in applying to St. John's College at the University of Sydney and continued his rowing and then turned to coaching and managing touch football and rugby union teams while at uni.
Over the past two years, Denzel continued the coaching and managing of the Gomeroi Goannas sevens rugby union team, which was founded by the late William Beale, who also believed in giving back to the community. The Goannas competed at the Lloyd McDermott Ella Sevens National Indigenous Rugby Union Championships at Coffs Harbour, winning the bowl final last year and went one further this year to win the plate final with a group of local Moree Indigenous boys playing rugby union and also addressing men's health issues.
Denzel is now embarking on a career of financial and community development as a member of the CommBank support and marketing team at Darling Harbour, Sydney, following his graduation from Sydney University.
He had taken up the position after completing an internship with Indigenous Career Trackers while studying.
Denzel is now not only a St. Ignatius Riverview Old Boy (OUI) and an alumni member of Sydney University, which has more than 320,000 alumni across 170 countries, but more importantly a role model to his family and community.
"I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me, Riverview staff and friends and of course Yalari for giving me an opportunity and ongoing support, as well Career Trackers which has no doubt changed my life and will change my future," Denzel said.
"My journey so far has opened many opportunities and I have made many lifelong friends already and hope to give back to my community in the near future."
While education played a big role in his life, positive role models plays a bigger role. Denzel in particular looked up to positive male role models in his family for support and aspiration. His grandfather Vincent "Popeye" Tighe left school as a young 13-year-old and went to work in the shearing sheds and supported his large family as a shearer. His other grandfather Alex Barker Snr is a painter and also showed him the importance of dedication and strong work ethics.
He knows about the hardship and barriers his grandfathers faced, but Denzel has taken opportunities for a bright future and is very proud that he is a Moree boy.
"The biggest influence in my life are my parents - both have university degrees," he said.
"My dad, Rod has a Bachelor of Health Science and mum, Karen has a Masters of Educational Leadership. They both work hard in the community in the health and education sector.
"So I am lucky to have people who have laid foundations down for me to follow and now I am making my own tracks and hope to be a role model for my younger cousins and community."