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.
Along with this new awareness came expectations – that I wasn’t supposed to like ancient history, or be able to remember sonnets and prose from Shakespeare; I wasn’t supposed to understand the development of abstract art from cubism and I definitely wasn’t supposed to “get” algebra. By my final year of high school I was on the school magazine committee, had a lead role in the musical, and represented the school on the athletics team – I wasn’t supposed to, but I did.
When I got to university all of a sudden I stopped being "wrong" and started being "right". At university I could stay in the library as long as I wanted to and nobody told me what books I should and shouldn't be reading. I met people with the same interests and I developed intellectually. I did more than anyone expected, including myself.
I’m now an Indigenous Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) in Canberra and would encourage all Indigenous people to go to university.
Education is a lifelong process. Education gives you choices and the freedom to live your life the way you want to, not how other people tell you you’re supposed to.