Issue 6
Tuesday, 06 August 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Aspire alumni Minh Thang and CDU’s Aspire and Children's University Coordinator Joshua Barnes discussing ways to connect secondary students with higher education opportunities
Aspire alumni Minh Thang and CDU’s Aspire and Children's University Coordinator Joshua Barnes discussing ways to connect secondary students with higher education opportunities

New champion for aspiring students

The new face of CDU’s engagement with secondary school students is Joshua Barnes, who will coordinate the Aspire and Children's University programs.

The Aspire Program is a pre-access pathway program targeting Northern Territory’s Year 10 to 12 students who demonstrate financial need, good academic results, leadership potential and an interest in serving their communities. The Aspire Program currently provides students with financial support, the confidence to pursue higher education at CDU and a strong collegial network.

The program has MOUs with more than 25 schools across the Territory, including at Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin.

“Growth is on the agenda,” Mr Barnes said.

“We are currently contacting all our Aspire alumni to understand what their pathways have been, where they are now, and what their goals are for further education.”

Mr Barnes previously worked as a teacher at Kormilda College, Haileybury Rendall and remote schools on Elcho Island and Wadeye.

“It’s a great fit for me as I am familiar with the program and understand how it directly affected students in the schools I was teaching in,” Mr Barnes said.

“You might be one of three kids at a remote school who imagine going to university and suddenly you meet up with 21 others who have common aspirations for further education.”

First year Bachelor of Nursing student, Lwin Moehtey said she greatly appreciated the support she received from the program.

“My mum was a single mother and planning to support me through school and university, but I started to see that she was struggling and I didn’t want to put all that stress on her,” Ms Moehtey said.

“Being part of the Aspire Program really helped. We didn’t have to worry about not having enough money to buy books and resources for school.”

Plans for the program include broadening the reach of the travel grant so more students from more schools can visit CDU and connect with their peers. The aim is to develop a collegial network for alumni, both face-to-face and digitally, so they can remain connected wherever their higher education or employment journey takes them.

Aspire alumni, Minh Thang graduated Year 12 in 2015 and, with the help of the Aspire team, successfully applied for a Northern Territory Government one-year traineeship and recently started his own business as a photographer and videographer helping small business create content for social media.

“I’m grateful for the skills and confidence I learned early on,” Mr Thang said.

“I learned how to ask for help and they are always there for support.”

The Aspire Program is funded by the Australian Government's Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program.