Morgan Coleman grew up in Central Victoria in a financially disadvantaged household, so joined Trinity College on a scholarship. He shares how being surrounded by motivated and inspiring people at Trinity opened up a life he never dreamt possible.
Like any teenager approaching their university years, Morgan Coleman (TC 2008) wondered what the future would hold. As a proud Torres Strait Islander he lacked the Indigenous role models outside of sport that he desperately craved. ‘There were lots of amazing Indigenous people out there doing amazing things, I just couldn’t see them,’ he says.
When Morgan was offered a place at the University of Melbourne, which fulfilled a long-held dream, he faced significant financial barriers. Unsure how to make his university dreams a reality without a place to live, he applied for an Indigenous scholarship at Trinity College – with success. ‘If it wasn’t for the help of that scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to afford accommodation to study at university,’ he explains.
During what Morgan describes as an inspiring and life changing time at Trinity, he lived and studied with the sons and daughters of business leaders and politicians, and for the first time felt like a peer. ‘As a young person, I didn’t understand what kinds of opportunities were out there until my time at Trinity. Everyone believed they could create an amazing life for themselves, so I started believing it too.’
Morgan says that Trinity College changed the trajectory of his life forever. If it wasn’t for the opportunities that Trinity afforded him, he doesn’t believe he would have had the courage to back himself and leave a promising career at global property development company Lendlease to start his own company. ‘I was always an ambitious guy, but the Trinity scholarship gave me the opportunity to fulfil my ambitions,’ he says.
One of those ambitions, and a strong passion of Morgan’s, is entrepreneurship – an area he believes has the power to change people’s lives. As founder and CEO of Vets on Call, a successful mobile app that’s been dubbed the ‘Uber for vets’, he is focused on global expansion. With investors knocking on the door to invest in the fast-growing business, Morgan is excited about the opportunities ahead. Given he also founded his own property development company, his life couldn’t be more the epitome of success.
Morgan is clearly more driven by philanthropical pursuits than financial, however. After leaving Trinity College he spent time in a remote Indigenous community in Western Australia, and this experience had a deep impact on him. While there, Morgan came to understand the way of life for local children and saw parallels to his own childhood … as well as the very different path he could have gone down, should his life have taken a different turn. ‘I thought, these kids will never have a chance to leave. I wanted to help, but I was just a powerless 19-year-old, what could I do?’ he says.
Powerless no more, Morgan has never forgotten those kids and wants to empower them to pursue dreams of their own. ‘I want my success to be what helps these kids say, “I can do that, I can achieve something”.’
And there’s no doubt Morgan has achieved amazing things in his life to date. Achievements that he says are thanks to Trinity College and the scholarship donors that changed his life. ‘I’m overwhelmed that someone had faith in my ability to succeed – more faith than I had in myself,’ he says.
While Morgan focuses on the exciting years ahead at Vets on Call, he emphasises that whatever the future holds, business and giving back will always be his passions. And with those kids never far from his mind, there’s no doubt that Morgan will change lives, just as the Trinity scholarship changed his.
Find out more about scholarships at Trinity College.