partnering stronger communities

alcoa sends students to leadership academy in canada
Eleven young students from Western Australia and Victoria will embark on a leadership journey in Canada this August, after receiving Alcoa Global Service Leaders Scholarships.
The scholarships form part of our long-standing commitment to build stronger communities by investing in tomorrow’s leaders.

The students from Perth, Mandurah and Waroona in WA, and Portland and Geelong in Victoria, were chosen to attend the Dwight International School on Vancouver Island where they’ll learn to ‘make service count’ and be encouraged to become sustainable leaders in their own communities. The two-week program is a comprehensive, hands-on, leadership program.

The Australian students are among 50 scholarship recipients from 21 countries, chosen from a pool of 450 applicants from around the globe. The scholarships have been made possible through the Alcoa Foundation’s partnership with the Institute for Civic Leadership (ICL). 

Alcoa Foundation President Paula Davis said: “The Alcoa Global Service Leadership Scholarship was created to recognise students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement and have a passion for service in their communities. Over the period, they will broaden their perspectives on leadership as they interact with students from all over the world.”

In a “classroom without walls,” participants will learn “sustainable leadership” and key skills to enable them to lead now and into the future. During workshops, team-building exercises and excursions, highly trained educators will push students to reach their highest leadership potential.

“After two weeks, students become part of a network of service leaders from around the world and have a different understanding of themselves and their ability to make service count,” said Kirk Spahn, Board President and Co-Founder of the Institute for Civic Leadership.

“Participation in the ICL Academy helps students answer the most critical questions asked by both colleges and future employers:  How are you a leader?  How have you made a difference?”

Alcoa Willowdale Mine employee Kylie Walmsley, of Waroona, is excited her daughter Jessica has been given this opportunity: “It will broaden her horizons and give her the opportunity to foster many new friendships. I am very keen for Jessica to challenge herself in all that she does in life and just the chance to fly to the other side of the world without her family is a huge step alone.

“She is developing into an environmental crusader, so by attending this two week school with ‘like minded’ students it will broaden her horizons and assist by giving her the skills to be whatever she wants,” Kylie said.

Kylie believes it’s important for Alcoa to sponsor and encourage leadership: “There are many children who never get these chances due to financial constraints, and the sheer logistics make these opportunities extremely unique.”

Loretta Polinelli, also of Waroona, is hoping her daughter Ashleigh will learn skills to be an active community citizen.

“I’m hoping the program will develop her interpersonal skills further so she will gain more confidence in areas such as negotiation, conflict resolution, collaboration and cooperation with others.”

Rachel Hair’s father Jim, who works at Alcoa’s Pinjarra Refinery, said: “By offering these scholarships Alcoa is investing in the broader community and helping equip and envision young people so that they can make a difference both now and in the future.

“I am thrilled Rachel has been given this opportunity - it is such a privilege for her.”

Mandurah’s Thomas Polinelli will also attend the Academy. His father, Wagerup employee Fred Polinelli, said he was excited Tom impressed the judges enough to warrant his inclusion: “Tom is looking forward to visiting another country and meeting people from a variety of cultures and backgrounds who have the same drive to achieve their best.”

The Alcoa scholarships cover program costs, including: tuition, roundtrip international travel, and passport and visa fees.

Recipients were chosen based on their merit and need as evaluated by a panel of international judges from industry, government, sports and academics. The judges included tennis great Monica Seles, former United Kingdom Ambassador to the United Nations Jeremy Greenstock, diplomat Mitra Vasisht of the Indian Foreign Service, Saudi Arabia’s HRH Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud and Jordan’s HRH Prince Rashid el Hassan. 

Australian Alcoa scholarship winners: 

  • Ashleigh Polinelli (of Waroona, WA – Frederick Irwin Anglican School)
  • Hannah Owen (of Mandurah, WA - Frederick Irwin Anglican High School)
  • Jessica Walmsley (of Waroona, WA - Frederick Irwin Anglican High School)
  • Nicola Symons (of Portland, Victoria - The Hamilton and Alexandra College)
  • Rachel Hair (of Jandakot, WA – St Hildas Anglican School for Girls)
  • Rayne Lynes (of Mandurah, WA - Mandurah Catholic College)
  • Thomas Polinelli (of Mandurah, WA - Mandurah Catholic College)
  • Katie Baronie Shaw (of Cottesloe, WA – Presbyterian Ladies’ College)
  • Daniel Brugman (of Torquay, Victoria – St Joseph’s College Geelong)
  • Jakeb Fair (of Geelong, Victoria – St Joseph’s College Geelong)
  • Caitlin O’Shea (of Churchlands, WA – Presbyterian Ladies’ College)


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Jessica Walmsley and Ashleigh Polinelli (right)



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Rachel Hair



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Rayne Lynes