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 stand in his way. When the time came to decide, it was an easy decision to follow my brothers to university. Unlike my brothers I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life but I saw university as an opportunity to learn more about the different disciplines to see what might be a good ﬁt for me.
I loved science at school and so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science. I then signed up for a unit in Introductory Psychology because I had a general interest in the way people think and I wanted to learn what psychology was all about. I haven’t looked back since.
University presented many challenges. I had to balance my studies with work, family and social commitments. It meant a lot of time away from home, entering a completely different world and getting used to a new way of life. There was a strong sense of community among Indigenous students on campus, which meant that there were always people around who were going through similar experiences and who helped each other out.
After completing my studies, I secured a cadetship and started working as a psychologist with children and young people in my community (Western Sydney). I’m only just starting out in my career, but I’m conﬁdent – my degree has opened up a world of possibilities that I had never even considered.
I recommend this Guide to any Indigenous person considering university – take advantage of the opportunities it offers. If you are unsure if higher education is for you, get in contact with the Indigenous Centre at any of the universities around the country. Speak with the staff and students who will share their experiences and talk about what path will best suit you.
I have been given the amazing opportunity to undertake a PhD at the University of Oxford in England as one of their two inaugural Charlie Perkins Scholars. My undergraduate degree has given me the security of a career and the ability to support myself and my family. Most importantly, my education has empowered me to make a unique contribution to my community. I am conﬁdent it can do the same for you.
Paul Gray, Psychologist and one of the two inaugural Charlie Perkins scholarship recipients attending the University of Oxford, 2011.