Goodna boy goes far
GROWING up in Goodna housing commission surrounded by drugs, violence and social problems it would have been easy for Damian Flint to become a product of his environment.
Far from using his upbringing as an excuse, the 30-year-old believes without it he wouldn't have the life he has today.
Mr Flint now lives in Brockport, New York, where he works as a Club Sports and Intermurals Co-ordinator at the State University of New York.
It's an incredible transformation for the sports lover who less than ten years ago was working on a concrete gang for the Ipswich City Council and dreaming of a NRL rugby league career.
Partnering NRL star Steve Matai in the centres for the Ipswich Jets in 2004, Flint planned to make his NRL dream come true before a serious injury barely 20 minutes into the season set him on a new course to self-discovery.
"I had missed most of the previous year with a knee injury so I had big plans for that season," Flint said. "After the new injury I realized my life was at a crossroads and I decided to pack up and head overseas."
After taking a job as a sports director on a cruise ship the former labourer stumbled into what would become his life-altering moment.
"To say that decision to take the job changed my life is an understatement," he said.
"I ended up meeting my wife Christine there at a time we were both figuring out our lives."
The couple headed back to Christine's home state of New York where Damian quickly found his way into the US college system studying sports management.
"It was the first time anyone in my family had completed a degree," Flint said.
Not only did the former junior football star complete his degree, he excelled culminating in him receiving the Marion Schrank Student Leadership Award - the highest leadership award given to a student at the university.
Today, Mr Flint works at the college and is also completing a masters degree.
He recently returned to Ipswich where he reminisced about his challenging past and reflected on the loss of one of his childhood friends to suicide.
"Growing up in Goodna taught me some valuable lessons," he said "I've learned from those experiences and apply them to my life every day."
Mr Flint hopes his story will motivate others in Ipswich to follow their goals regardless of the barriers they face.