Issue 10
Friday, 03 June 2016
Charles Darwin University
Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks, Dr Josie Douglas and Chancellor Mr Neil Balnaves AO
Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks, Dr Josie Douglas and Chancellor Mr Neil Balnaves AO

Alice PhD graduate speaks from heart

By Patrick Nelson

Charles Darwin University PhD graduate Josie Douglas has spoken about discipline, determination and overcoming the temptation to eat chocolate, during a speech from the heart at the Indigenous Valedictory ceremony in Alice Springs.

In giving the Student Response, a reflective Dr Douglas said there had been moments during her five years of study when she could have given up.

“There were times when every part of you screams at you to walk away to something easy, like eating lots of chocolate to help you feel better,” she said.

“But we are all here today celebrating the completion of our studies because we didn’t give up.”

Dr Douglas is just the sixth student in Alice Springs to receive a doctorate from CDU.

She examined how today’s young people in Central Australia learn, hold and transmit Indigenous ecological knowledge (often called traditional knowledge).

“It all came together in the end because two out of three examiners ranked my PhD in the top five per cent of theses that they had examined,” she said.

“I say this … to prove that Indigenous students can achieve academic success and carry out high-quality research degrees. We can do it even if we don’t believe it at the time, which certainly applied to me.”

Dr Douglas said she was grateful to her network of supporters, which included her family, the CSIRO staff in Alice Springs and principal supervisor Associate Professor Tess Lea.

Outgoing Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership Professor Steve Larkin said CDU had celebrated the academic achievements of 391 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander completers so far this year.

“Stay tuned for our final figure in October to see if we break the record of 516 set last year,” he said.