Some of UniSA’s graduates making a real difference in our community didn’t have an easy start. Fortunately, through receiving a scholarship they continued their studies and have gone on to achieve successful careers that benefit us all.
Sadly, there are some who might miss out, not because of their talent or intellect but for reasons out of their control. You may not know this, but nearly 30% of commencing students to UniSA come from an economically disadvantaged background – a figure well above the national average.
This is why at UniSA we are dedicated to increasing the number of scholarships available to give as many students as possible the chance achieve their greatest potential.
Today’s students are the next generation of bright minds and innovative leaders. They will be tomorrow’s most valued health professionals; they will discover new possibilities; they will help our communities to thrive economically; and they will inspire and shape the minds of generations to come.
After dropping out of school as a young teenager and being told I was illiterate when I was in my mid-twenties, I am now an academic, a National NAIDOC Scholar of the Year, and most recently a UniSA Alumni Award recipient.
I grew up in Adelaide’s northern suburbs and became a plumber with my uncle after leaving school when I was 13. The job was going well until I was in my mid-twenties and I had two young children and started to think beyond myself. I was concerned about how I was going to help my children with their school work as they grew up. It was also becoming more important to me to break the cycle of poor levels of education in my family and for my children to graduate from high school.
I enrolled at TAFE to study the equivalent of primary school and was told, ‘James, congratulations you can join our course - you are illiterate.’
I can see the lighter side of this welcome now, but I am sure you can appreciate just how confronting that was to hear.
After having undergone over 15 surgeries, I am now fighting for human rights and being the voice for those who are often unheard.
I was born with a life changing genetic condition called Cleidocranial dysostosis and have undergone over 15 surgeries since birth up until just two years ago. Growing up, my condition caused me to miss a lot of high school and even my first semester of university. It was so frustrating being ready to start university but be held back by something out of my control. However I was determined not to let my situation hold me back from pursuing what I had always dreamed of – working in law and human rights.
When I commenced university, I was fortunate enough to receive a Cowan Ability Grant which was so beneficial at such an important time in my life. This grant is awarded to students with disabilities to help manage the additional expenses associated with studying. The financial assistance allowed me to purchase law books (which as you can imagine can be both large and expensive) and a lightweight laptop.
As an engineer, I am helping to build infrastructure, provide essential services for our community, and am proud of what I have achieved so far.
I grew up in Adelaide and for as long as I can remember I have been interested in understanding the world around me. I have always been very curious and eager to learn more.
At high school, I loved studying physics because it has a connection to the real world and I could apply the theory to my surroundings. I also pursued work experience at various engineering companies, specialising in civil, mining, and metallurgical engineering. This experience confirmed to me that I was on the right track and I enrolled in Bachelor of Civil Engineering (with Honours) at UniSA.
I was drawn to UniSA because of the hands-on, practical experience and industry connections from the very beginning. In my first year, I applied for the Sylvia Birdseye Scholarship, which has strongly shaped my career. I believe the introduction I had to industry made possible through the scholarship is invaluable and has been critical to my success.
I was the first person in my family to finish high school and I am dedicated to encouraging other Aboriginal students to embrace education and pursue their passions.
Today I work as a mentor and advocate for Aboriginal students and earlier in my education career I worked with students who have special needs. But I haven’t always appreciated just how precious education is.
I grew up in Adelaide’s north eastern suburbs and was determined to become a professional athlete. I didn’t really consider pursuing higher education past high school. My mother left school when she was in year 7 - as one of the oldest of 13 siblings she needed to help out financially and provide for her family. Also, 50 years ago as a young Aboriginal woman she faced a number of social challenges which also contributed to her leaving school at such a young age.
Becoming a nurse gave me a new beginning, my independence, and the essential training to be able to save a young man’s life.
I grew up in Adelaide’s northern suburbs and had a challenging upbringing. I won’t go into specific details with you, but I can share that I had a difficult relationship with a family member and ending up fending for myself a lot.
I became sick while I was in year 12 and was unable to finish high school, and then met my husband and moved interstate with him. I knew I had to get out of where I was, make a new beginning, and break the cycle I was living in.
We had our first beautiful daughter when I was 19 years old. I had always loved education and enjoyed school, but at this time in my life I changed directions and became a stay-at home mum.
When my youngest child was six weeks old I completed a short course to become a security guard. I really enjoyed the work, but still my inner voice kept telling me, ‘you need to learn more.’ I have always had a constant desire to help and care for other people and realised that I wanted to become a nurse.
I would like to give back to the Australian community and help others who may be struggling and need extra support.
I was born in Liberia, West Africa. When I was young my sister and I were forced to flee the civil war and found refuge in neighbouring Guinea, while my Dad thankfully came to Australia. I am very lucky that I survived; hundreds of thousands of people died and many more were displaced.
I lived in refugee camps in Guinea for over seven years with my sister and thousands of other people from Sierra Leonne and Liberia. I spent the whole time hoping that I could either safely move back home or that my sister and I could be re-settled with my father in Australia.
During this time I didn’t receive what Australians could consider a proper education. Some of the adults living in the refugee camps who had finished high school taught us what they knew. The classes were really large and the ‘teachers’ were not qualified, but this was our best option at the time. Learning what we could from each other brought us closer together and we formed a community based on our desire for education.
Tell us what you have achieved since graduating from UniSA