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2023 Team Aspire news

Welcome to the Aspire newsletter

2023 Aspire Year 12 Kickstarter

The start of February is a busy time for all students going into Year 12. This year’s Aspire Kickstarter camp was held from 23 – 25 January to prepare our Year 12 Aspire students for the busy year ahead.

Students arrived at camp from across the Territory on Monday and after lunch attended a presentation and Q & A sessions with Future Students and Student Central. A game of University Lingo followed to see how much they remembered from the sessions, and it was a close contest between the groups. Still, the winners got it 100% correct and won Boost Juice vouchers to spend that afternoon when they headed to Casuarina Shopping Centre for some retail therapy. The day’s highlight was Grill’d for dinner and then on to Kingpin for some group bonding with Laser tag and Bowling.

Tuesday started with a healthy breakfast and then on to a Resilience and Connection Workshop run by Balanced Choice; students participated in a range of activities and discussions to build resilience and connection amongst the group to help get through the challenging times that will come while completing Year 12. We had a lovely lunch from the Ugly Duckling, and then it was up to the Beagle Deck for Headspace to chat about how to keep our minds healthy this year. To finish off the day’s formalities, students took some professional headshots and participated in a Life Coaching workshop to set up goals and focus for the year ahead. The day was wrapped up with yummy pizza at Fanny Bay Super Pizza and an impromptu dance party in the MC Room at IHD.

The sad part came on Wednesday morning when it was time to head home. All up, students had a great time and hopefully stepped away with a few more skills to see them successful in their Year 12 journey. We wish them all the best of luck this year and can’t wait to see them in December for their Aspire Graduation!

Group Photo from Aspire Year 12 Kickstarter
Group photo of students at Aspire Kickstarter
Students participating in Coaching Young People for Success Workshop
Students participating in Coaching Young People for Success Workshop


Aspire Year 12 Graduation November 24 - 26 2022

In late November 2022, the Aspire Graduation for Group H was held. The Graduation event took place on the Casuarina campus. It started with fun activities, including a university scavenger hunt, shopping, and movies. The event's second day allowed students to reflect on and celebrate completing school and the Aspire Program. It included a workshop with Amy Heatherington, time in the CDU Careers Centre, and time with student services to answer any questions about future studies at CDU. The day finished with the Aspire Graduation Ceremony attended by students, some family, friends, and staff, including Vice Chancellor Scott Bowman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of First Nations Leadership Reuben Bolt, Professor Ruth Wallace, and Director of Student Engagement Sarah Fletcher. The ceremony featured speeches by Aspire students, a certificates presentation, and a slide show of the cohort during their time with the program. The ceremony was followed by dinner at Pepperberry restaurant.

We wish all the Aspire students the very best for their future adventures and thank them for participating and sharing their stories during the past two years as members of Team Aspire. We are excited to hear about what they do with their futures and encourage them to contact Aspire if they need to.

2022 Aspire Graduates at Ceremony
2022 Aspire Graduates at Aspire Graduation Ceremony
Dry Season Camp

From July 11 – 15, the Dry Season Camp was held at the Casuarina campus. The Dry Season camp aims to give students from around the Northern Territory the opportunity to come to CDU, stay in student accommodation, network, and learn about study options at CDU.  

The camp kicked off with an Amazing Race with students familiarising themselves with the Casuarina campus and completing activities in different spaces. This was followed by tours of either the CDU Library or a tour of the Gurinbey Centre. On the first night, expectations for students on the camp were set, followed by get-to-know-you games, and a pizza and movie night.

On Tuesday morning, Amy Heatherington ran a fantastic workshop focussing on communication and confidence, and students participated in various activities.

Throughout the camp, students explored different study areas at CDU, including Visual Art, Environmental Science, Horticulture, Accounting and Business, Nursing and Midwifery, and Health and Human Sciences. Future Students spoke to students about what they can study at CDU and different pathways. CDU Global spoke to students about studying abroad, and the Careers Centre took workshops on self-awareness and skills.

The camp was not just about spending time on campus; students also went to King Pin for bowling and laser tag, the Ski Club, and Parliament House.

The support of CDU staff is essential to making these camps successful, and we would like to thank all the CDU staff who supported the camp, made the time to speak to students, or hosted a workshop.

Group Photo from Aspire Dry Season Camp
Aspire Dry Season Camp 2022 Group Photo
Year 12 Kickstarter

Team Aspire Year 12 students travelled from all over the Northern Territory to attend the Kickstarter held from April 10 – 12 at the Casuarina campus. The Year 12 Kickstarter was scheduled to be held in January, however, due to Covid, we rescheduled the event for the April School Holidays.

The Kickstarter aims to inform, motivate and inspire students at the beginning of their final year at school. After arriving on Sunday afternoon, students enjoyed meeting and catching up with each other, followed by dinner at the Trailer Boat Club before attending a packed day of activities on Monday 12 April.

Monday began with a moving Welcome to Country by Aunty Bilawara Lee. This was followed by a Leadership, Goals, and Resilience Workshop hosted by NT Young Australian of the Year, Sizol Fuyana of Fuyana Support. During the workshop, students participated in teams and as a group exploring communication, resilience, and leadership characteristics.

Aspire staff and alum, in collaboration with Student Central hosted a Preparation for University session, followed by an informative session on how to apply for CDU courses. First Nations students were able to participate in a tour of the Gurinbey Centre with First Nations staff.

The formal learning part of the day concluded with an Inspiring Stories Panel featuring people working in law, horticulture, occupational therapy, information technology, and entertainment. The presenters talked about their education and their journey to their current roles.

The day ended with dinner at Grill’d followed by laser tag and arcade games at King Pin, the students taking part in a fiery contest in the laser tag arena.

Students departed early on Tuesday, 12 August, to enjoy the remainder of their school holidays.

Thank you to all CDU staff and Aspire alum who contributed to this successful event, supporting Aspire students as they navigate their next steps. We look forward to hosting our Year 12 students in November for their Aspire Graduation Ceremony.

Year 12 Kickstarter 2022 Group Photo
Year 12 Kickstarter 2022 Group Photo
Aspire on the Road

Aspire Program Officer Madeleine Brodie travelled to Jabiru, Alice Springs, Nhulunbuy, Laynhapuy Homelands, the Tiwi Islands, and local schools to meet with students and deliver coaching workshops at the beginning of the year. Delivering these workshops aims to help students name their goals, explore possibilities, and plan how they might achieve them.


Team Aspire staffing updates

Team Aspire welcomed new staff to the program in August 2021. Passionate about educational access and supporting students to achieve their goals, Maddy Brodie took on the role as the Aspire Program Officer. Maddy is a trained teacher with a wealth of knowledge in developing community partnerships and alternative education programs to inspire a love of learning.  

Also commencing in August, Naomi Prime the new Administration Officer for the Aspire and Children’s University team. Naomi understands the important role that Team Aspire and the support offered through the program can have in the lives of young people. Naomi has previously worked in the NT in small businesses, at CDU and the NTG. 

Along with Megan Clark, Manager of Transition and Retention, staff work together to deliver the Aspire program to students across the Northern Territory. 

Year 11 Dry Season camp

The Dry Season Camp is an opportunity for the Year 11 Aspire students to experience life as a university student. It is designed to showcase CDU and the opportunities that higher education can offer to students. The Dry Season Camp was postponed from the July to October holidays this year due to lockdown. Consequently, the Aspire Team welcomed Year 11 Aspire students to CDU for October 4-8.  

Students travelled from across the Territory to attend the camp, including from Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Darwin, Palmerston and the rural area. The camp gave students the opportunity to experience life as a CDU student with students staying at IHD and attending a variety of activities each day.  

Students took part in campus familiarisation by participating in an Amazing Race, they attended self-awareness and career pathways sessions, drummed with Maleuleuka Refugee Centre staff, met CDU staff from Nursing and Midwifery, Health Science, Horticulture, Visual Arts and Creative Writing, exploring different study and career options. They also learnt about pathways to study at CDU with Student Recruitment. On Thursday they visited Parliament House and heard the inspirational story of speaker Ngaree Ah Kit followed by a visit to the Northern Territory Library.  

However, the camp wasn’t only about study options and career paths. During the camp students and staff enjoyed getting to know each other, by going bowling and playing laser tag at Kingpin, shopping at Casuarina, and dining at the Ski Club. On the last night camp participants serenaded everyone with karaoke.  

Workshops at Year 11 Aspire Camp
Aspire Group H
Photos from the Year 11 Dry Season Camp
Year 12 Graduation

On November 25-27, Year 12 Aspire students are invited to CDU for the Graduation Stay. This event celebrates the achievement of our graduating class. Activities include a graduation ceremony with keynote speakers; motivational sessions with community members sharing their stories of success and education; and workshops aiming to build future confidence and clarity for future pathways. Unfortunately, this event was cancelled due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in some regions of the Northern Territory.   

Megan Clark and Madeleine Brodie at Year 12 Graduation
Dr. Megan Clark and Aspire Program Officer Madeleine Brodie at the online graduation ceremony.
Year 12 Online Graduation 2021
Former Aspire Program Officer India Forbes speaking at the online graduation.
Schools Roadshow and 2022 applications

Due to lockdown and staffing, the Team Aspire Roadshow was on the road in mid-October visiting some of our schools. Working alongside CDU’s First Nations Leadership staff, Team Aspire delivered activities and presentations to Year 10 students to promote the Aspire Program and higher education at CDU. Team Aspire visited Centralian Senior School, Our Lady of Sacred Heart, St Philips College, St Joseph’s Catholic College, Katherine High School, Palmerston College, Casuarina Senior College, and Darwin High School. Following these school visits, potential Aspire students from Year 10 cohorts across the territory submitted their 2022 Aspire applications. Team Aspire is looking forward to welcoming our next cohort of students into Team Aspire and to visit all our schools in early 2022.


In preparation for 2022, Team Aspire coaches have been trained in the Coaching Young People for Success (CYPFS) model. We would like to welcome Jubilee Weo, Alina Biji, Lizzie Hoult, Megan Clark to Team Aspire as coaches. CYPFS combines strategies that are proven to facilitate positive change, enhance wellbeing and promote goal attainment in young people. Students identify and self-determine their educational journey in accordance with their interests and gain practical knowledge to make informed decisions about future studies. In 2022, Year 11 students will receive coaching in groups and Year 12 students will receive one-on-one coaching which leads to deeper conversations and support with identifying future university choices.


$10,000 Aspire scholarship

What would you do if someone gave you $10,000 to spend?

This is the question I asked recently to three past Aspire students who have been awarded the new Aspire University Scholarship’

Ann Roy (Group A), Shantale Niyonsaba (Group D) and Emily Hardy (Group D) are the first students to be awarded this significant scholarship.

Ann Roy
Ann Roy - Aspire University Scholarship recipient

 When asked what she would spend her first $5,000 payment, Ann Roy quickly responded,

‘I knew I needed a new and powerful computer for my Architecture studies. The scholarship is timely as I am not working due to COVID’

As part of her Bachelor of Arts, Ann has to make scale models of her architectural concepts.

‘I had spend a lot of money at Bunnings recently. Balsawood cost a lot of money!’


Shantale Niyonsaba - Aspire Scholarship recipient
Shantale Niyonsaba - Aspire University Scholarship recipient

Shantale Niyonsaba who is studying a Bachelor of Nursing, remarked,

‘I am going to save the money so that I can work less during the summer semester’.

The scholarship is intended to help students to work less, especially when the pressure is on at University.


Research finds that students who work more hours, have lower grades and were more likely to drop out.  Our students who receive the Aspire Scholarship will soon receive $5000 to support their studies in semester 1. The scholarship is designed to be ongoing and $2,500 is awarded in semester 3 and 4.


Emily Hardy - Aspire University Scholarship recipient
Emily Hardy - Aspire University Scholarship recipient

Emily Hardy who is studying a Bachelor of Health Sciences plans to spend the money on …

There are over 60 different scholarships available to study VET and Higher Education at Charles Darwin University. Learn more through the Scholarships Finder or contact Aspire.



The special thing about the Aspire Scholarship is that it is ONLY available for students who have been part of the Aspire Program in high school and come to study at degree at CDU.

When asked, ‘What advice would you have to anyone else if they apply for the Scholarship in the future?', Ann Roy responded,

“There is no shame in applying for a scholarship – I think that’s what people fear. There’s no shame in wanting to ask for help. There’s no shame in sharing your story.”

Aspire Year 12 Graduation - Friday 27 November 2020

This month we will hold our sixth Aspire Graduation at the CDU Waterfront Campus for our Group F (Year 12)  Aspire participants.  Students from across the Territory will participate in workshops, reflecting on their student journeys, exploring plans for 2021 and beyond, hear from Aspire alumni, learn about opportunities to study and travel overseas with CDU. 


CDU Aspire graduate receives youth award the 2019 NT Human Rights Awards
 Joshua Barnes, Coordinator of the Aspire Program, and 2019 NT Young Australian of the Year Nominee & CDU postgraduate student - Jane Alia.
Joshua Barnes, Coordinator of the Aspire Program, Jubilee Weo, and 2019 NT Young Australian of the Year Nominee and CDU postgraduate student Jane Alia.

Year 12 Aspire Graduate, Jubilee Weo, was recognised at the 2019 NT Human Rights Awards held December 10 coinciding with Human Rights Day.

She won "The Fitzgerald Youth Award - individual" for her leadership of Yumurruku ngalapalmi – Yonglu for ‘young adults’ – a youth engagement and social change project in Yirrkala, East-Arnhem land.

Jubilee plans to study nursing at CDU in 2020 and hopes to continue her inspiring community work here in Darwin.

Year 10 Aspire Orientation
cdu aspire year 10 group

Seventeen Year 10 students from school across the Northern Territory and South Australia came together in April for their Year 10 Aspire Orientation – the first event of their Aspire Program scholarship.

Students came from the Darwin regional area as well as Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, and Glossop in South Australia to attend the event.

Staying in on-campus accommodation at International House Darwin meant students got to immerse themselves in university life for two days, and attend workshops and activities designed to demystify higher education.

Students practiced study skills and time management, built teamwork and problem-solving capacity, learnt about pathways from school to higher and further education, and explored the CDU campus. As part of the experience students worked with local facilitators Amy Hetherington and Adam Drake, as well as interstate speaker Nathan Hulls.

Our Group G Aspire students are an inspiring group of young people, and the Aspire team look forward to watching them grow over the next three years of the program, and to hopefully welcome them as CDU students in the future.

Year 10 Aspire Orientation was held Wednesday 10 & Thursday 11 April 2019.

Year 12 Aspire event - Saturday 16 March 2019

During March our 16 Group E Aspire students took part in a workshop designed to prepare them for Year 12 and the opportunities and challenges to follow. Students travelled to CDU’s Casuarina Campus from all over the NT including Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Nhulunbuy and Glossop in the Riverland in SA. Those who travelled to Darwin from rural, regional and remote towns and communities stayed on-campus at International House to get a ‘taste’ for what it’s like to live away from home as a university student.

Students participated in a workshop exploring online learning platform Learnline and the tutoring service available to them, learnt about university life, study, scholarships, and the other opportunities available to them at CDU, and developed skills in networking and talking about themselves without feeling ‘weird’ in preparation for job, scholarship and apprenticeship interviews. Local comedian and facilitator Amy Hetherington also facilitated a ‘silliness workshop’ to reduce stress and remind them to have fun amongst all the seriousness!

This group of students will next come together in late November to celebrate the end of Year 12 and to graduate from the Aspire Program in a formal graduation ceremony.

Aspire Alumni News: Joel Kennaway

Joel Kennaway is one of the Aspire Program’s graduates from 2016 (Group B). In 2017 he commenced a Bachelor of Engineering/Masters of Civil Engineering at CDU and was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for High Achievement. Joel is now planning to live and study overseas in the Philippines through CDU after being awarded the New Colombo Plan Scholarship.

Joel will undergo language training, work as an intern with local establishments and further his studies while based at a leading university. It will be his second overseas venture, having lived in Timor-Leste for six years. “There was a little bit of trepidation on hearing news of my selection, but mostly I’m excited about what promises to be a very different experience,” Joel said. “I’m planning to leave in March for eight or nine months.” Joel has also been selected as the New Colombo Plan Philippines Fellow, an honour bestowed on the top-ranked student for each destination country.

“It’s a coveted role that means I may be invited to represent Australia at various events or be called on to promote the scholarship program.” Joel said he expected the opportunity would allow him to experience ‘different sectors’ within the broad field of civil engineering. “I’m keen to develop my own networks, develop the Northern Territory and will share my experiences with CDU when I return to Darwin.

Joel joined us at our recent Group D Aspire graduation event and gave an inspiring speech to our graduating students. We share it here in the hopes that his wisdom and experience will help other Aspire students.


Aspire Year 12 Graduation - Tuesday 20 November 2018

This month we held our fourth Aspire Graduation at the CDU Waterfront Campus for our Group D (Year 12) Aspire participants. Students took part in a workshop during the day revisiting Aspire memories, exploring plans for 2018 and beyond, hearing from Aspire alumni, and learning about opportunities to study and travel overseas with CDU.

In the evening an intimate graduation ceremony was held where Aspire students were joined by family and friends to celebrate finishing secondary school, and to formally graduate from the program. Chair of CDU’s Academic Board, Dr Aggie Wegner, joined us to congratulate each student on their achievements. Aspire alumni and current CDU engineering student Joel Kennaway also joined us and gave an inspiring speech about his own experience of the Aspire Program and how instrumental it was in helping to forge his current path.

We look forward to continuing to support our Aspire Group D students and are excited to see what paths they take and what future adventures they have in store!

Aspire Year 11 event & Discover CDU Day – Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 August 2018

Our Year 11, Group E Aspire students came together for a workshop exploring self-confidence, goals and aspirations, and various pathways and careers that they are interested in. Students also had the opportunity to speak in-depth to a professional or student in their area of interest.

Our regional and remote students stayed at International House to get a feel for what living ‘on-campus’ is like and enjoyed leisure time and team-building activities including the ‘Breakout’ rooms in the city, where they had to work together to escape using problem-solving skills in under an hour.

The following day students explored the opportunities that Discover CDU Day presented to them. Popular workshops were the ‘Beginner’s Guide to Uni’ talk, as well as the scholarships and studying overseas sessions.

Aspire alumni News - Cindy Um

Cindy Um is one of the Aspire Program’s graduates from 2017 (Group C). This year she has commenced a Bachelor of Commerce Finance and Banking at the University of New South Wales and has made the big move down to Sydney from Darwin. Achieving a high ATAR enabled Cindy to apply for and receive several scholarships, which she describes as being “tremendously helpful” for the move.

“There have been so many opportunities in Sydney and to take advantage of those I’ve decided to work in the industry in conjunction with my studies. The thing I’m most excited about though is the opportunity to pursue an internship in both London and New York throughout my degree as part of my scholarship program – so visiting Big Ben and Central park are definitely in my plans for the future!” she says.

She credits the Aspire Program for part of her success, “I think the way Aspire ties into it all is that because I had already been through so much interview prep through all the workshops I was able to really put my best foot forward when I got UNSW interviews and had my first ever panel interview with the directors and partners of the ‘big banks’ and accounting firms. Also, having my scholarship submissions proofread by Aspire staff was super helpful!”

For Cindy, the combination of personal and professional development that the Aspire Program provided was especially valuable. “I liked developing those soft skills – that process of self-discovery and figuring out what type of person I wanted to be in the future – and then breaking that down into mid-term goals and career pathways”.

Of the network and friends the Aspire Program provided her with, Cindy says “I felt so at ease going through the university application process because I had friends from the Aspire Program before me who had already done it and were there to answer any questions I had. Knowing that if anything went wrong I could always call on the Aspire staff for help was so comforting”.

Cindy credits the volunteering and extra-curricular element of the Aspire Program for helping her get her scholarships, and encourages current Aspire students to embrace these experiences. “Talking about all the volunteering and extra-curricular activities I pursued during high school was something that the selection panel for my scholarships said really stood out on my applications. Even just having one volunteering placement really puts you a head above the rest!”

Congratulations Cindy on your achievements. The Aspire team can’t wait to see what you do next!

Year 10 Aspire Orientation – Tuesday 10 Wednesday 11 April 2018

Twenty-five Year 10 students from Aspire partner schools across Darwin, the Northern Territory and South Australia met at CDU’s Casuarina Campus for the first time in April for their Aspire Year 10 Orientation. Students travelled from Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs, Katherine, Dundee Beach, Supplejack Downs Station (the most remote cattle station in Australia!) and Glossop in South Australia to attend the event.

Staying in on-campus accommodation at International House Darwin meant students got a taste of university life while they attended workshops during the day. Activities were designed to encourage students to explore the university campus, become comfortable with each other, inspire resilience and optimism, and discover university life. 

Students learnt about volunteering opportunities, practised study skills, and built teamwork. Facilitator Amy Hetherington and interstate speaker Nathan Hulls also met and worked with students during the two days.

Our Group F Aspire students are a very special group of young people and the Aspire team look forward to working closely with them over the next three years. 

Year 12 Aspire event - Saturday 3 March 2018

During March, our Group D Aspire students took part in a workshop designed to prepare them for Year 12 and the opportunities and challenges to follow. 

Students participated in a workshop exploring resilience and coping strategies, were given the opportunity to talk in-depth to a professional working in their area of interest, learnt about university life and opportunities, and honed speaking and presentation skills to prepare them for job, scholarship and apprenticeship interviews. Local comedian Amy Hetherington also facilitated a ‘silliness workshop’ to remind them to have fun amongst all the seriousness!

This group of students will next come together in late November to celebrate the end of Year 12 and to graduate from the Aspire Program in a formal graduation ceremony.

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