Read the inspiring stories below of Indigenous Australians who have gone to university
One of the most exciting and proudest moments of my life
I am a Ngarluma woman with family ties to the Kimberley and Pilbara regions in Western Australia.
In 2004 I enrolled in a Bachelor of Laws degree at Flinders University. The transition from high school to university was at times hard, isolating and challenging. What helped make it bearable and gave me confidence was the strong support from my family, the Flinders Law School and...
Uni is about realising your potential
I am a proud Worimi man and a candidate for a Master's degree in Fine Arts at Sydney College of the Arts. There were many challenges along the way but looking back I’d say it was a very worthwhile experience.
The major challenge was changing from engineering to visual arts. It went against the grain – less chance of a job and so on. But university is not simply about...
Education gives you choices and freedom
My educational journey began when I was four years old.
My parents sent me to the Sacred Heart Convent School on Thursday Island. The nuns taught me to read and speak "proper" English. A few years later Mum and Dad moved us to the mainland for better educational opportunities and my new schoolmates made me aware of two more things – I was black and I was poor.
Uni has been a collection of the most amazing experiences
I commenced my double degree in Aboriginal Studies and Social Work at the University of South Australia in 2006 and I expect to graduate at the end of 2011. Once I've graduated, I hope to go on to postgraduate studies.
University is an amazing experience but I have faced several hurdles during this time. I returned home for the births of my three gorgeous sons (my sister's...
Fortune favours the brave
It’s often said that university study "opens doors". It’s certainly been the case for me.
After completing degrees in arts, law and business I have been fortunate and privileged enough to work in blue-chip companies as well as in some of the finest law firms, with some of the finest legal minds.
Of equal importance, I have been able to hold...
I want to become a role model for our people
I always wanted to go to university but I didn't finish my HSC and I decided to go straight into the workforce. After working for about four years I decided it was time to undertake further education.
My passion for journalism and media steered me towards a BA in Communications at the University of Technology Sydney.
University study was something I really enjoyed...
University changed my life
I come from a strong Aboriginal family so I never doubted my heritage, but I did learn a thing or two once I completed year 12 and went on to study at The University of Western Australia.
It was there I learnt a more comprehensive history of Australia’s past and the sheer breadth of the social injustices done to our people.
University changed my life. It gave...
I hope to be a role model for other Indigenous Australians
Education for me, was the key to moving forward in my life. I was inspired by Aboriginal relatives of mine who had graduated from university and went on to achieve incredible things.
Seeing doors open for them through higher education was a big part for me, in wanting to study at university.
I am currently studying a Master's degree in performance at the Royal...
Charlie Perkins Scholar at Oxford University
I grew up all over Australia. My educational journey though, began at home, ten hours inland from Brisbane in Barcaldine, where my family are from.
As a child, every Christmas my family would round up all of us kids and take us out bush in the back of the ute for a week. We would only take with us water, ﬂour and salt, everything else came from our country. Damper, witchety grubs...
Opportunity and connections
I am currently studying civil and environmental engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney.
My area of interest is in creating sustainable infrastructure that has a lower impact on the environment. I chose to study at UTS after I found out about their combined engineering/international studies degree. This means I can study engineering as well as learn a language and...
Take a step and make a difference
Education is undeniably one of the most important opportunities afforded to us.
Drama was the only subject I could connect with in high school. Well, that and English. And both gave me great satisfaction and enjoyment. The more I performed, the more I began to fall in love with performing. A teacher gave me a booklet that outlined all the university courses that focused on a degree in...
You don’t know your own potential unless you try!
I never really had career aspirations when I was growing up, on Thursday Island there weren’t many options.
My parents wanted to provide their children with education and opportunities that weren’t available to them so we moved to mainland Australia to finish our schooling. Even though I then went on to university I still didn’t have any clear career...
If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone
I was a single Mum with two small children, living on welfare and delivering junk mail to make ends meet.
I felt that I didn’t have the abilities to get a tertiary education until I met a university student called Wilfred Ebun-Cole who told me, "you don’t have to be very intelligent to go to university, if you have common sense and you commit yourself, you can...
Getting university qualifications opened many doors for me
As an Indigenous Australian I faced many hurdles before I even got to university. I didn’t think I was smart enough, but continued persistence and inspiration from my Mother - and a school visit from the director of the Tjabal centre at the Australian National University - helped change my perspective.
When I turned sixteen I decided that I wanted to go to university.
Undergraduate study has contributed to my personal growth
I was a mature-aged student and I left secondary school with very average results, so I entered tertiary education with a fair amount of trepidation.
I studied at Flinders University doing a degree in Government and Public Management. I graduated in 2010 and was awarded the Ken Wanganeen Medal from the Yunggorendi First Nation Centre for Higher Education and Research.
Another way to empower ourselves
A university education was once considered something that few of our people could aspire to or even dream about. That is changing for the better.
Still, we have a long way to go before we can claim that our people are represented in universities at the same level as the rest of the Australian community.
Growing up in my family it was considered essential to obtain a university...
Charlie Perkins Scholar, exploring Systems Biology
A descendent of the Kamilaroi people, Jarad Field completed Honours in Applied Mathematics at the University of Sydney, after completing Bachelor of Advanced Mathematics in 2013 with a minor in French literature.
In 2014 he was selected to attend the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour and was subsequently awarded the 2015 Charlie Perkins Scholarship.
Set goals and achieve your dreams
I didn’t complete high school so I was worried when I started my degree about not being able to write well enough for university.
Fortunately, I received regular help through the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ITAS). I also made great friends with my tutor.
Along with completing my degree I had to look after my three young daughters, run my household,...
We need to get more rural Indigenous kids to study
I’m from a small village outside Dubbo, population eleven! My Dad stayed on the farm and Mum and I moved away to give me a decent education. They are an incredibly supportive family.
As the first person in my family to attend university, I didn’t know where to apply. Fortunately I had help from Nura Gili, the Indigenous student advisory service at The University of...
I will be making a contribution to my people
Six years of study is a long time and it’s been a life-changing experience for me.
I’ve had a friendly and supportive home at Shalom College at The University of New South Wales and this has let me get on with the job of studying and passing my exams. The college is a racism-free environment in which we Indigenous students can live proudly and discuss our culture.
People were always friendly and considerate
The biggest hurdle I faced in completing my degree at Edith Cowan University was maintaining the motivation and inspiration to complete each and every assignment to the best of my ability.
At times, situations and responsibilities seemed to overwhelm me or become too much. I found support from really amazing people also doing my course who were always happy to share suggestions,...
The more you learn, the more you see the opportunities
Getting into university in the first place was the most difficult part, once I got in it was a really fulfilling experience.
Now I feel that my studies have given me the confidence and knowledge to seek out opportunities and also to make the most of those that come my way.
I have two main goals; firstly that my artwork will enable people to question their beliefs...
"So that you will not be a slave like me"
My Father was a stockman and a fencer, my Mother was a domestic. Both my Parents wanted me and my siblings to get an education; in the words of my Father "so that you will not be a slave like me."
My Parents had minimal education so for me to go to high school was a great achievement in their eyes. People I met who had gone to university encouraged me to undertake...
I was the first in my immediate family to attend university
I am a Kamilaroi woman and the first in my immediate family to attend university.
Whilst this was a daunting concept, it was also a powerful one. I always loved school so university seemed a natural choice for me. It can be a lonely place but there is support available, especially at the Indigenous centres on campus. Going to uni can be a big culture shock and having access to...
My goal is to work with Aboriginal kids
I was both humbled and honoured to receive the Vice-Chancellor's Indigenous Australian Scholarship. The scholarship has been used to offset my university fees, as I prefer to have as minimal a debt as possible when I complete my degree.
I am in my third year of a Bachelor of Education at Edith Cowan University. My decision to study came about from experiences I had on a...
My goal is to make a difference to the lives of Traditional Owners
As a Tasmanian Aboriginal woman my passion was to work in native title and cultural heritage. My goal is to make a difference to the lives of Traditional Owners. I’m working at addressing the injustices perpetrated against Aboriginal people in the past and today.
I was awarded the Robert Riley Law Scholarship for the duration of my studies and was also supported by the...
Politics, Development and Democratic Education
Lilly Brown was told in Year 10 that she had plateaued in her studies and was not encouraged to continue to Year 12. Lilly refused to let the school determine what she was capable of achieving. In 2011, she participated in the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour, visiting Oxford and Cambridge.
Lilly applied to, and was accepted by, both universities. As the first...
I wanted to help kids achieve their goals
I chose to undertake a teaching degree at Edith Cowan University (ECU), because I wanted to become a role model for Indigenous children and help them achieve their goals.
After completing my degree, I plan to make a difference by teaching in remote communities. My experience at ECU was extremely positive. The lecturers were always very helpful and I received a lot of support with...
Uni made me strong and determined
My exit grades from school were not high enough for university. However, I completed the entry examinations through the Ngunnawal Centre (Indigenous Education Centre at the University of Canberra) and was accepted into university.
Time-management was my biggest problem and I failed two subjects due to my sporting commitments. University was a strain, but it made me strong and...
Hang in there ... it gets easier
I am a Wiradjuri boy, born and bred in Sydney, and I completed a Bachelor of Education, Human Movement and Health Education at The University of Sydney in 2002.
University is big and at times it's a daunting place. It was hard in the early months of my degree - finding my way to class, making friends and learning to write academically. I was very fortunate to have the staff and...
I can now go out into the world and have a say
To be honest, I don’t know why I went to university in the beginning. But my family was so happy when I began my law degree at the University of Technology in Sydney.
I'd been to the city a couple of times. My laptop was stolen and I felt that the city people were not so kind to me. I had to work to support my studies and I needed to balance that with my study, leaving me...
Education is important to our Indigenous communities
My educational journey began in country Ballarat, where I'd never even met anyone who had been to university.
It was a scary and alien concept to me, as both of my parents left school at the age of 15. With their encouragement, I went to university and ended up having the opportunity to work with two Nobel Laureates, one of whom supervised my PhD.
My education has...
If you’re thinking about university study, just do it
For my first degree I had to manage the demands of study, work and living by myself. As a young person it wasn’t easy. However, I had the support of friends, work colleagues and family.
I have completed two degrees. I commenced my first degree – Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) at The University of Queensland and completed it in 1998. In 1999, I commenced my second...
Stop thinking about it and enrol today
I graduated in December 2006 with a Health Science degree from The University of Queensland specialising in Indigenous health and health service management.
Going to university was challenging, I'd dropped out in year 11 armed with a "know-it-all" attitude. After six years of work I made a life-changing decision and enrolled at university. It was hard juggling study,...
I now get paid to make dreams come true
I didn’t apply myself well at school. I spent years working depressing, dead-end jobs to get by.
I always had dreams and when I felt them slipping away I knew I needed a new direction. I failed to get into university the first time I applied which, at the time, felt like a fatal blow, but through persistence I eventually got into the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS),...
Charlie Perkins Scholar at Oxford University
I am a Wiradjuri man who followed in the footsteps of my older brothers who both went to university before me. I can’t really remember making the decision to go to university. I had an amazing advantage in that as I started at high school, my brother was making important decisions about his own future.
He had set his sights on studying law and was not going to let anything...
I was a mechanic before I went to uni
I was a mechanic for eleven years before I started university and I found study very difficult. I was 28 years old with a family to support and very little money.
But I persevered and I was so thankful to receive the financial support of a scholarship.
My first job was at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.
Australia's first Indigenous Rhodes Scholar
I was the first Aboriginal person in my family to complete high school and obtain a university degree. I couldn't do the anthropological work I am doing now without having undertaken those studies.
I have experienced the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and have actively pursued its wider recognition. The yearning to see acknowledgement of and respect for this...
Rhodes Scholar Anthropology and Ethnography
Rebecca Richards is an Aurora Internship Program alumna. She worked as an anthropology intern in 2009/10 at the Australian Legal Rights Movement and South Australian Native Title Services. Following that, she became the first Indigenous Australian to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, having applied after learning about the Scholarship through Aurora’s Indigenous Scholarships...
Uni can be the best time of your life
I’ve just completed my first year at Melbourne University. Moving from the Gold Coast I found it hard to leave my family and friends but living at Ormond College is a welcoming home-away-from-home.
The Bachelor of Arts (Extended) gives me the opportunity to meet people I would not have ordinarily met, I have new perspectives and opportunities to hear other people’s...
I discovered a hidden passion
I commenced my Bachelor of Laws at Bond University on the Gold Coast in January 2009, as the inaugural Sunland Foundation scholarship recipient, after graduating from St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill in 2008.
This full scholarship has afforded me many opportunities, as well as giving me a solid foundation in law. Now in my sixth semester and at the end of my second year, I...
I made long-lasting friendships
My parents encouraged me to go to university. In year 12 I did not know what I wanted to do career-wise, let alone go to university.
But, with my parents' encouragement I applied, and was accepted into the Special Entry Scheme at Griffith University, administered by the now Griffith University Murri and Islander (GUMURRII) Centre.
First year was full of new ideas,...
Aboriginal education is my passion
As a Wiradjuri woman who grew up in a small country town in NSW I chose to study education because Aboriginal education is my passion in life.
I believe, that through education, I can challenge the tide of low expectations and make a positive difference to educational outcomes for Aboriginal students.
With the support of my family and a scholarship from the NSW...
I make my own choices
I enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree after high school and had no idea about what to do in the future.
After my degree, I worked in public health in the area of international development/foreign aid, in Australia and South East Asia. I was passionate about making a difference to poor peoples' lives.
After four years I returned to study and enrolled in a...
I'm proud to be the first Indigenous pharmacist in the NT
I am a descendant of the Maranunngu (Daly River) people. My Grandparents were taken away as children during the stolen generation and gained little education. I am proud to represent them as the first member of our family to complete tertiary studies.
I chose to enrol and study pharmacy at Charles Darwin University (CDU), so I didn’t have to leave my hometown. This greatly...
Take up tertiary study and be rewarded
I am a Miriuwung Marda-Marda from the East Kimberley of Western Australia. Perth is my birth country, and for me the movement between the South West and the Kimberley region of WA has become a kind of pathway that crosses the many countries and stories that are part of my foundation and my history.
Mine was a somewhat crooked pathway to education. I was the first person in my...
Challenging myself gave me the confidence to do my PhD
I was a mother of five, working full-time in remote communities in the Northern Territory. I had never been exposed to university life, and when I started I had to adjust to being in a very large city.
My literacy skills were poor, my spelling ability was at a year 7 level and so I taught myself to spell through my children.
I completed my Bachelor of Community...
Go to uni and create your own dreams
I am the Solicitor Director of Terri Janke and Company, a law firm I started in 2000. I was born in Cairns and have family connections to Cairns, the Torres Strait Islands and Cape York (Meriam & Wuthathi).
When I was a kid I didn’t know any lawyers or anyone who had gone to university. Following my sister Toni to law school in Sydney after finishing high school, I had...
Roberta Sykes Scholar at Harvard University
My journey proves that a successful undergraduate degree can lead to amazing opportunities and possibilities.
My name is Tim Goodwin. I am a member of the Yuin people from the south-east coast of New South Wales. My Grandfather grew up on the mission at Wallaga Lake, and my Grandmother, a Wiradjuri woman, grew up on the mission outside of Narrandera. My Grandparents raised my Mum...
My trade skills could only take me so far
Undergraduate study was not a priority for me when I left high school. Instead I chose a trade qualification and undertook a four year apprenticeship. However, after some time, I realised my trade skills could only take me so far and I wanted to explore new alternatives.
I decided to do a degree in anthropology and psychology at James Cook University. It has been a challenge to...
Think big and meet the challenges head on
I began university with four very young children and very little money. I had a burning desire to follow a legal career and completed my undergraduate law degree and a graduate diploma at the University of Wollongong, as well as completing other degrees.
I was awarded a number of scholarships at university. However, to keep them, I had to maintain a distinction average. There...