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Merryn Paynter, Board Cadet

Board Duration: 2020-2021

For Merryn Paynter, volunteering in the education sector was written in her DNA. Her father, Graham Paynter, was a Life Member of Community College Gippsland Board and contributed to the organisation over several decades.

Merryn fondly remembers helping her father – never a fan of technology – access his monthly Board papers and hearing him speak about the organisation and its impact on the community with great passion and enthusiasm.

“My father was passionate about learning pathways and how the right set of skills could change a life,” Merryn said. “He taught me that success in education is not always about a university degree – what we define as achievement is very individual and everyone who reaches their goal should be celebrated.”

As CCG had been such a big part of her father’s life, Merryn was interested in continuing this tradition of contribution. When the Cadet role came up, Merryn saw it as the perfect opportunity to dip her toe in the water.

“I knew that I had knowledge and experience that would be valuable to bring to the Board, but I hadn’t served on a Board before,” she said. “This was an ideal entry point. I was able to bring my skills to the table in a supported way, where I was encouraged to experiment, learn by doing and get some experience under my belt.”  

For Merryn, the Cadet opening came at just the right time.

“After losing my husband a few months earlier, it was easy to get lost in grief. Reconnecting with something so positive and contributing to something bigger than myself again has been really rewarding. Joining the Board gave me the opportunity to show my 11-year-old son that life carries on and can be positive again, even after tragedy.

“Professionally, the experience has given me a lot, too. It helped me return to the professional sphere after completing my PhD and prioritising my family. It has been such a pleasure to be in the room with board members who have such diverse backgrounds, skills and experience. We learn a lot from one another.

“More than anything, I think the cadetship has helped me find my voice, by finding the courage to speak up and add my input to the discussion. That has helped me to have faith in myself again and trust in what I have to offer.”

For those who are considering applying for the Cadet experience, Merryn has three words: go for it.

“It’s a fabulous opportunity. Give it a whirl! See what you are made of.”