EXCEPTIONAL Far North Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students have been recognised for their outstanding academic and personal achievements at a major James Cook University awards ceremony last night.
Over 30 students were honoured at the seventh annual Indigenous Student Awards ceremony in Cairns, as they continue to excel in their tertiary studies.
Students studying education, arts, social work, law, business, engineering, marine science, information technology, allied health, nursing, medicine and veterinary science were among those recognised.
They were in addition to students recognised by the Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health, CSIRO STEM and “Spirit” awards for the Nguma-bada (Smithfield) and Bebegu Yumba (Douglas) campuses.
JCU Deputy Vice Chancellor, Indigenous Education and Strategy, Professor Martin Nakata said the awards celebrated the hard work and dedication students had shown over the course of a busy year.
“The calibre of students who receive these awards continues to impress the entire JCU community,” Prof. Nakata said.
“These awards recognise the journey each student has been on in order to reach such a high level of success – from the support they’ve received from family and friends to the high level of academic and pastoral care provided by the staff at JCU’s Indigenous Education and Research Centre and from across the University.
“The learning experience at JCU is only enriched by the achievements of our Indigenous students.”
Prof. Nakata paid tribute to the families, wider community and industry supporters in attendance at the awards.
“It is an enormously proud moment for these students as they take the stage and accept such an award in front of their peers and supporters,” he said.
“Through their academic endeavours, they have the power to inspire the next generation of students to reach for the stars.”
Rockhampton-based third year Bachelor of Education (Primary) student Cameron Gooda said he was thrilled to receive an award after already winning Rockhampton NAIDOC Student of the Year and being named a recipient of the Lambert McBride Perpetual Bursary.
After spending 11 years working in Indigenous Housing, the Darumbal man was convinced by the principal of his local primary school to enrol in the Remote Area Teacher Education Program (RATEP).
The program enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to receive personalised support from Education Queensland teacher coordinators at their respective study centre, as well as from student support advisors from JCU’s Indigenous Education and Research Centre.
“The RATEP has been absolutely five star – I’ve received all the support I’ve needed for my study, and even personally when I’ve gone through some hard times,” Mr Gooda said.
“The coordinators and advisors have been there for me through everything.
“It’s been such an incredible pathway for me and I feel I’ve grown as a person. I’m more confident, I speak better and I’m more engaged with communities.”
Currently working as a teacher aide at Park Avenue State School, Mr Gooda said he hoped to use his experience to inspire the next generation of Indigenous students to follow their dreams and reach for the stars.