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First Nations students in Alice Springs celebrated for achievements

More than 50 First Nations students are graduating from Charles Darwin University's (CDU) Central Australia graduation ceremony this week.

More than 57 First Nations students are graduating from Charles Darwin University's (CDU) Central Australia graduation and valedictory ceremony on June 16.

Graduates are recognised for their academic achievements across a range of disciplines in vocational education and training (VET), Higher Education, and PhD.

This year, there is a total of 57 First Nations graduates, up from 30 First Nations graduates in the same period in 2021.

Diploma of Counselling graduate Cherie Jones (Lester) is a proud Yankunytjatjara woman from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia who has been living and working in Alice Springs for the past 26 years.

Ms Jones first completed her Diploma of Psychology before going into a Diploma of Counselling and is now studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science at CDU, aiming to become a registered psychologist in Alice Springs. 

Ms Jones is a single mother, works full-time in administration, and takes care of her granddaughter. For her, pursuing higher education is a balancing act.

“Studying, working and trying to be there for my family required me to dig deep and bring out the resilience,” Ms Jones said.

“My motivation for studying is about giving me access to other career options and earning respect in the workplace.

“There are not a lot of Aboriginal psychologists, so I’m looking at how my training can benefit my community.

“Studying brings a whole wealth of confidence, and the financial reward once I become a psychologist will also be so good for my family in the future.”

Ms Jones has been able to access one-on-one tutoring from the First Nations Tertiary Support team to support her academically.

CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor First Nations Leadership Professor Reuben Bolt said providing adequate resources was essential for First Nations students to achieve academic success.

“Our dedicated First Nations Student Support team provides ongoing assistance to our students throughout their studies at CDU,” Professor Bolt said.

“We are proud to see the accomplishments of our First Nations students as they complete their studies and continue to make contributions to their communities.”

CDU Associate Vice-Chancellor for Alice Springs Jay Walker said the Valedictory Ceremony marked an important milestone for First Nations graduands in Central Australia.

“The graduation and valedictory ceremonies are formal occasions that celebrate our First Nations students who have overcome a lot of adversities in life to get to where they are today,” Mr Walker said.

“We have a growing number of First Nations students completing their further studies at CDU, which is an indication for improved education outcomes and a boost for the Central Australian workforce.”

The CDU Central Australia graduation ceremony held on June 16, 2022, at the Alice Springs Convention Centre will be opened by Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman.

The First Nations Valedictory ceremony will be held at 4.30pm to recognise these students in Alice Springs. Graduates will be further acknowledged for their academic achievements at the First Nations Valedictory Ceremony on campus on the same day at 7pm.

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