Getting back to my roots

About three months ago I was approached by my old school to return and inspire, maybe even motivate the grade 12 student body in making an informed life decision post grade twelve. I really appreciated the invitation, and couldn’t say no to a return to Glenala State High School.

After hanging up that very phone call, I began to think about what I have done that could inspire a group of grade twelve students… The thoughts started to roll on in.

I decided I wanted to return not as a representative of QUT, but an ambassador for tertiary education. In my graduating year, despite of what statistics might suggest, only two students from my graduating class completed their first semester of university. Myself and a good friend of mine, and former fellow school captain Rowena. Fortunately, we both stuck to our guns and we are now in our final years (or for me, undertaking final year subjects =p).

I truly think students of low socio-economic areas (ugh far out I hate that word, I liken that term to a caste system), often discount their potential to pursue and engage in further education. I am at the belief that further education is really the only solution in breaking down those economic barriers that have left these families behind in areas as such. Students from low-income backgrounds are the ones who are most capable of bringing about social change. That really is the message that I wanted to get out into the community today.

I delivered this message through my personal anecdote, where I never gave my circumstances any opportunity in dictating my future. I really believed the Glenala students received this message, and it was such an honour to take these students on a personal journey on the roller-coaster that has been my life.

This school has changed so much since 2007 when I was captaining that ship (or at least I thought I was HA!). It’s recently transformed as a result of increased funding from the ‘Schools of Tomorrow’ stimulus, which has instilled a greater sense of pride in self, community, and I’d hope education.

Those of you who are in similar circumstances that I was in, or communities that are considered low-income (or low socio-economic), and you have/are experiencing some educational disadvantage you are certainly not doing it alone. A lot of universities offer support programs and alternative entry options for students like yourself. These programs can really mean the difference between change, and being stuck in a cycle.

I gained entry to QUT through our Q-Step program. It removed a lot anxiety I had about making that transition from grade 12 to university. I wasn’t as stressed about getting admitted into university, because I saw Q-Step as an opportunity that would open up more doors if things didn’t work out how I’d like them to.

Yes it was an application form, but it wasn’t confronting, and condescending like many other applications seem. I didn’t feel like I a ‘basket case’ at all during my application. The application process was really encouraging. All I did was tell my story, and provided evidence of this story that proved my financial hardship, which caused my disadvantage. That simple! While I didn’t need the three extra OP bonus points Q-Step could have provided me, I got a lot of financial and social benefits: a scholarship, bursaries here and there that have helped me pay for textbooks, as well as network of people who were all in the same boat as me! We all continue to captain this QUT ship together ready to take on the world!!!

So what are you waiting for huh? If you think you might be the slightest bit eligible for this program, I would urge you with my 100% support to go fill it out and APPLY! There are forms available online at just waiting for you. What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen? They might say ‘No.’ Big Deal, who cares because it is worth the ten minutes or so it will take you to fill it out.

And please, any questions about the program at all, I’m more than happy to answer them… And also, if you are not looking at coming to QUT, and you are wanting to attend one of the other major universities such as UQ or Griffith look at their respective programs, UQ-Link, and Uni-Reach… Or do what I did, and apply for all of them that way my bum was covered if I didn’t receive my first preference at QUT!

Peace y’all!

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