Misty Jenkins

Misty Jenkins

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 allowed me to travel the world, working in Oxford and then Cambridge as a postdoctoral student and becoming a fellow at St Edmund's College. I am now a Research Fellow at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne focusing on killer T cells; white blood cells which destroy virus-infected, and tumour cells.

I quickly realised how education empowered my life, but I also understood how important education is to our Indigenous communities. As more Aboriginal people become qualified, there is a knock-on effect which can directly or indirectly benefit your entire community.

What is evident is that much more needs to be done to accelerate improvements in education and health outcomes for Indigenous people. We need so many more Indigenous doctors, yet the proportion of Indigenous students studying medicine is incredibly low.

Imagine how great our country would be with more Indigenous doctors, lawyers, accountants, nurses, and politicians! This is a great time to take the stereotype that Aboriginal people do not go to university and change it!

That change is already slowly underway, and I have had many opportunities that my Mother never had although I do acknowledge that because of my paler skin, I was not subject to the physical discrimination that many of my cousins were.