School leaders forging an authentic path

Year 12 students Ayaan Ahmad and Ezana Debebe didn’t expect to come to Melbourne Grammar School but, in doing so, they have consolidated their desire to ‘give back’ for the rest of their lives. 

“I wouldn’t have dreamt of coming to a place like this until I was encouraged to apply for a Melbourne Foundation scholarship by a family friend,” Ayaan says. “This kind of opportunity is very rare.”

Ezana is also a recipient of a Melbourne Foundation scholarship.

After commencing in Year 9, Ayaan is now a Vice-Captain of the School, while Ezana is Vice-Captain of Bruce House. Alongside their leadership and Year 12 study commitments, the two boys are also part of the Bluestone Committee, which provides peer-to-peer tutoring, and the Values in Action tutoring program, delivered in collaboration with the Smith Family, which sees Senior School students tutor those in Years 4 – 6 from other schools. 

On top of these and a wealth of other cocurricular activities, there are also sporting commitments to fit in. All this with a commute from the far western suburbs of over an hour each way for both students. 

“Soccer training commences at 6:45am, so I have to catch a 5:40am train on those days. It’s tougher to do that in the rain,” says Ayaan. “By the end of the week I’m usually pretty drained, but when I am at school, it makes it all worth it. How many people have this sort of experience?”

Ezana agrees that overcoming personal challenges like these are worth it in the long term. “I feel like Melbourne Grammar offers such a great opportunity for students like us who’ve had different lives to many of the students here,” he says.“Being here offers us a different perspective, and we can share our perspective with the other students as well.” 

For both Ezana and Ayaan, staying true to one’s own values is essential, especially in their current School leadership roles. 

“If there’s anything I’d like to be remembered for after I leave here, it’s that I stuck to my beliefs and did my best to be as genuine as possible,” Ayaan says.

“Whenever I can I try to tell younger students to stick to who they are. Don’t try to change yourself just to please others.” 

Ayaan Ahmad

“Being here has unlocked a greater motivation to study for me, which is something that wasn’t as celebrated in my previous schools,” Ezana adds. “But above all, I hope the boys think of me as genuine and true to myself. I always try to stand by my decisions and values.” 

Having been supported to come to Melbourne Grammar, both boys are now keen to give back in whatever way they can. 

“I’m hoping to study medicine at university,” says Ayaan. “I’d like to be able to go back home to Pakistan and teach people in that field. To be able to make an impact there would mean a lot to me.” 

“My parents have taught me how important it is to give back to the community, and I want to follow in their footsteps,” adds Ezana, who is also looking into studying medicine after Year 12. “I can definitely see a time in the future when I support something like The Melbourne Foundation.”

If you would like to support talented and driven students through Melbourne Grammar School’s scholarships program, please contact Kate Barnett, Director of Community Relations at +61 3 9865 7680 or [email protected]. For more information visit:

The Melbourne Foundation provides scholarships to high-achieving students whose families are unable to cover the cost of private school education. It is an independent entity and was established by Michael Cotton (OM 1996) and several friends from university in 2006.
Sam Marks (OM 1996) is on its Board. It has provided scholarships to almost 20 students since 2006. For more information visit: