USC helps Indigenous student fulfil dreams | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC helps Indigenous student fulfil dreams

A new USC Social Work student hopes to inspire more Indigenous students to pursue higher education after her own success in becoming the first in her family to study at university.

Suzy Kemp, 26, of Sippy Downs, is the first of her nine siblings to enrol at university, a goal she achieved after finishing four courses of USC’s Tertiary Preparation Pathway (TPP) Program in 2014.

“I enrolled in TPP because I wanted to get a good job and make my family proud,” she said.

“I dropped out of school at 12 years old and I was petrified in the first week at uni but the support of USC’s Buranga Centre and ITAS (Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme) got me through it.

“The people at the Buranga Centre are very accepting. It’s like a family. And I can’t speak highly enough of my tutors, who sat down with me and explained the content in a way I could understand. I had to be taught the academic language.

“It was one of the happiest days of my life when I got into the degree. My mum (Yvonne Kitchener) cried. I’m doing social work because I want to support people who have mental illness.”

Suzy is also delighted that her artistic interests are taking shape this year, as she participates in a community project to launch a world-first Indigenous hand-painted canoe at the national outrigger sprints at Lake Kawana on 30 and 31 January.

The collaborative project is co-organised by USC Lecturer in Tourism, Leisure and Events Management Dr Gayle Mayes, who is a member of the Mooloolaba Outrigger Club that owns the painted canoe.

Dr Mayes said the project was part of the 4C Indigenous Program (Connect to Culture and Community through Canoeing) and she was working with USC’s Buranga Centre to encourage more Indigenous students to join the competitive sport.

Suzy said she felt proud to be working on the canoe project alongside her mother, who was an Aboriginal artist and a member of the Stolen Generation.

“I’m from Wiradjuri country in New South Wales so it’s wonderful to be accepted in the country here,” she said.

“I’m very confident going into my USC studies this year, knowing that I can receive support through ITAS. I’d like to be as much an inspiration to other Indigenous students as my tutors.”

— Julie Schomberg

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