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Indigenous students shine bright

Amy Stevenson

12 April 2019: Indigenous students from the University of Canberra (UC) have received this year’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tertiary Scholarship from the ACT Government.

In a first for the program, all five recipients of the Tertiary Scholarship – Nyingari Little, Jordan Griffen, Courtney James, Lily Coleman, and Karina Hopkins – are from UC and received the awards during a special ceremony in late March.

The Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development Yvette Berry MLA, Director-General Natalie Howson and Deputy Director-General Meg Brighton were on-hand to congratulate the students during the presentation.

Professor Peter Radoll, Dean Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Strategy, has called the achievement inspirational, and said it puts a spotlight on the talented students at the University.

“It is inspirational to see all five ACT Government tertiary scholarships going to five amazing Indigenous women from the University of Canberra,” Professor Radoll said.

“This demonstrates the outstanding Indigenous talent that the University of Canberra has, and it is fabulous that their academic achievements and community leadership has been recognised in this way.”

The Tertiary Scholarship Program is for students enrolled in teaching or an approved health course at a local ACT university. The scholarships are provided to assist students in the costs associated with their studies.

Nyingari Little, who is in her third year of studying Secondary Education, majoring in English and Indigenous Studies, said it’s a “wonderful feeling” to have received the award.

“I have many family members who have studied and worked at UC before me, so to receive this scholarship while representing the University makes me really proud because I get to continue that legacy,” Nyingari said.

“I also think it’s just incredibly wonderful that all of the recipients of the tertiary scholarship come from UC, so in that sense there’s another level of pride there. UC has some mighty fine, mighty strong, and mighty determined Indigenous students!”

With intentions of wanting to teach English and Indigenous Australian histories and cultures at high school once she completes her studies, Nyingari added that while she’s received numerous pieces of advice during her studies at UC, there’s always been one thought that stuck.

“I heard that ‘Once you have seen a certain behaviour from a student, you cannot allow yourself to be surprised when they do it again’. This was said with reference to difficult behaviour but, looking at it with a positive lens is very empowering,” she said.

“It’s advice that I’ve not only constantly kept at the back of my mind during my Education studies, but it’s something that is applicable to other aspects of life. It serves as a reminder of what I’m capable of achieving, and I think that’s something that’s important to keep in mind – especially as an Indigenous student.

“If I’m capable of getting that distinction once, then I’m capable of doing it again and again. It’s not something I should be surprised about, because it’s nothing new. It’s something I should be proud of doing and I should strive to keep going.”