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Norlisha's pathway to Indigenous health research

This article appears in: Health, Pathways to Uni
First Nations Pathways to University Program student Norlisha

Norlisha had been working in health research for several years, with the thought of study always at the back of her mind. Not knowing how or where to start, Norlisha says it took quite a while to take that first step.

“I had been out of school for over 20 years but knew I wanted to gain a qualification based on my life/work experiences.”

Norlisha discovered the First Nations Introduction to University Program offered a specific health stream, designed to equip students with the skills to move into health-related courses.

“I knew this would help give me the needed answers,” she says.

The program connects each student with a First Nations student mentor as well as an academic tutor to provide cultural and academic support and help with assignments.

Pathways at CDU

First Nations Pathways to University Program student Norlisha

Norlisha describes the academic literacy stream of her program as “awesome”, where she learned how to read and write essays again, especially related to Indigenous health.

“This included firstly how to read university papers, dissect the information and main points in the articles, essay writing (introduction, body, conclusion), how to build on essays using references, and public speaking (including creating a PowerPoint presentation).”

All the academic articles used were written by Aboriginal scholars and professors, so it was easy for us to understand and connect with.

Norlisha notes the convenience of having a study pathway created for her that was “flexible and included my prior experience”, and she valued the camaraderie of her program cohort.

“Being surrounded by all the upcoming Indigenous students motivated me as a mature age student.”

Advice for future students

“Don’t shrink back and think that studying at uni is beyond you,” Norlisha says.

“Take the plunge and you will have so many great opportunities open to you.”

CDU has great support services, both in Indigenous Services and Library/Academic Language and Learning Services. The lecturers are very approachable and happy to help.

With the First Nations Introduction to University Program completed, Norlisha’s next goal will be completing the Bachelor of Public Health.

She hopes to use Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for several units in the degree based on her work experience.

Her goal is to become an Indigenous researcher in mental health.

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