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First Nations students honoured at graduations in Darwin

Today 119 First Nations students will celebrate their academic successes at a Valedictory Ceremony held at Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Casuarina campus.
Today 119 First Nations students will celebrate their academic successes at a Valedictory Ceremony held at Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Casuarina campus.

A proud Jikilaruwu man from Bathurst Island, who’s the first in his family to graduate from university is among 119 First Nations students graduating from university this week.

The students are from a range of locations, including 89 from Darwin and surrounds, three from Katherine, 10 students from communities such as Gunbalanya, Nhulunbuy, Ngukurr and Tennent Creek, 11 students from Alice Springs and six students from interstate.

The students will celebrate their academic successes at a First Nations Valedictory Ceremony held at Charles Darwin University (CDU) today.

They will be recognised for their achievements across a range of areas including business, law, health science, early childhood education and care, creative arts and nursing.

John Hoskins (26), a proud Jikilaruwu man who grew up in Darwin, will be one of the many students honoured at the Valedictory Ceremony as he graduates with a Certificate IV in Computer Systems Technology.

Mr Hoskins is the first in his family to graduate from university and is currently working in an entry level role in the Northern Territory Government after he was encouraged to apply for the program by one of his tutors at CDU.

“The IT industry is so large and there are plenty of different avenues I can go down and plenty of different opportunities I can take, so I am looking forward to working hard and seeing where my career goes,” Mr Hoskins said.

“As a First Nations man I am proud to represent my community and hope to encourage more First Nations people to study and to take any career opportunities that come their way.”

For Mr Hoskins, graduating will be bittersweet as he sadly lost his mother while he was studying. His father, brother and partner will attend the Graduation Ceremonies.

“Losing my mum while studying was very difficult but she wanted me to finish off my studies and get a good education so I am sure she will be proud of my achievements,” Mr Hoskins said.

Skye Louise Connors (34) from Darwin will graduate with a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Teaching (Birth-12 Years) and will be the Graduand speaker for the First Nations Leadership Valedictory Ceremony.  

The ceremony is held specially for First Nations students who have successfully completed their degrees at CDU, they will also attend Graduation Ceremonies held at the Darwin Convention Centre later in the week.

At the Graduation ceremonies, First Nations students will be adorned in academic stoles in First Nations colours celebrating their heritage and achievements.

CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor First Nations Leadership Professor Reuben Bolt said he was proud to see so many First Nations students graduating and achieving academic success.

“We want to congratulate all of our First Nations students who are graduating this week, it is an important occasion and the culmination of many years of hard work,” Professor Bolt said. 

“CDU is very fortunate to have a wonderful cohort of First Nations students who are great role models for their communities and who show other First Nations students that undertaking higher education is a possibility. They make an extremely important contribution to closing the gap." 

The First Nations Valedictory ceremony will be held Today, September 29 from 5pm at the Performance Theatre at CDU’s Casuarina campus.  

First Nations Graduates will be further acknowledged at Darwin CDU graduation ceremonies held on September 30 at the Darwin Convention Centre at 11am and 5pm and in Sydney on October 20 at the Sydney Town Hall.

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