How The Aspiration Initiative helped Jackson achieve
In his graduation speech given at The Aspiration Initiative’s Graduation Ceremony in December 2016, Jackson Gray spoke of his participation in TAI, that started when he was in year 8, and the positive impact the program has had on his school journey.
“From the beginning, the ultimate aim of TAI was to foster the skills and ambition necessary to get us into university, should we want to take that path,” he explained.
“We were shown different ways of approaching problems through culture, and challenged to think about school in a different light.”
The TAI academic enrichment program is an Aurora Education Foundation initiative that works with Indigenous students across NSW, Victoria and WA. The program provides long-term, individually tailored educational and pastoral support for participants through a range of activities including academic camps, tutoring and mentoring.
Throughout the program students get to form long-term relationships with other students. This helps to create a network of peers who support one another to aim high and engage with education with a sense of cultural pride.
“The single largest thing the camps have fostered in me is a lifelong respect and desire for learning that had been lost in translation somewhere amongst the bureaucracy of the education system,” said Jackson.
“The fresh attitude towards learning through culture is the most important message this camp has taught me.”
National Manager of the program, Samantha Simmons, says TAI programs help students connect to their heritage.
“The Aspiration Initiative is a unique and ground-breaking approach to education for Aboriginal students from year 8 through to university,” she said.
“The program takes a ‘whole-of-community’ view to a young person’s development and draws on Aboriginal ways of learning to strengthen students’ confidence in their academic abilities. TAI involves the participation of parents and carers and draws together support from schools, Elders, mentors and Aboriginal education specialists. It is these strong community linkages that work so effectively together to increase our students’ chances of completing high school and moving on to higher education and employment.”
In closing, Jackson thanked everyone that played a part in his experience with TAI, and acknowledges the program had sparked enduring relationships between TAI students, staff, mentors and Elders.
“I think the most appropriate word in this sense is ‘family’ because I know, that although we are all independent, we will all be there for one another when anyone is in need. I thank you all for letting me be a part of this TAI family.”
Jackson is now in his second year of a Bachelor of Arts/Law at the University of Wollongong.