DIGGING into a social media web site has unearthed a promising future for Annette Seymour of Maryborough.
The 52-year-old mother of four, is excited about becoming an archaeologist thanks to her friend’s Facebook comments about experiences at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).
Originally from Tamworth in New South Wales, the proud Anaiwan/Wiradjuri woman had never dreamt that university was possible for her until she read online about USQ in Maryborough and Hervey Bay.
“My friend posted some comments about USQ on the Fraser Coast Event’s page so I thought I’d check it out and see what university was all about.
“She encouraged me to apply for uni, saying there was no reason why I couldn’t. I put the form in for IHEPP (Indigenous Higher Education Pathways Program), did the aptitude test and passed.
“It was daunting but I did it and now I’m excited about starting a Bachelor of Arts majoring in archaeology next year.”
USQ Fraser Coast Executive Manager Brett said the IHEPP provided access to tertiary study for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who for social, economic and cultural reasons, have missed out on educational opportunities at various stages of their lives.
“Successful completion of the IHEPP leads to admission to specified undergraduate award programs of the University,” Mr Langabeer said.
“While Annette did IHEPP externally, she had full access to USQ facilities at the new study hub in Maryborough throughout the six-month course.”
Located in Sussex Street, the USQHub@Maryborough opened in July and provides face-to-face support for students enrolled in the Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP) and for school students enrolled in introductory Head Start courses where first-year USQ courses can be completed while students are still at school.
Intensive TPP and Head Start courses are offered in Semester 3, which runs during the Christmas-New Year school holiday period.
Ms Seymour recently sat her final IHEPP exam and is awaiting the results. Once her successful completion is official, her undergraduate degree enrolment will also be confirmed.
“It’s looking good so far,” she said. “I’m especially excited that I’ll be able to again use the resources at the USQ study hub in Maryborough while studying externally.”
A career in archaeology that will serve her well in retirement is a far cry from “picking up odd jobs” as she has done since high school.
“I’ve always been interested in archaeology but at school I was mostly playing sport. I was also very good at Maths – I finished in the top 10 in New South Wales – and I liked the sciences.
“I’m also into genealogy and want to get into preservation and archiving, so doing the USQ degree is an avenue to do that.
“I get to dig ‘em up and preserve ‘em as well! How good is that?” she laughed.
“Ideally I’d love to dig in my ancestors’ areas around Tamworth, Armidale or Wellington in New South Wales, or locally on Fraser Island or at Maryborough’s old township site, as a start. Basically, anywhere I can get my teeth into something!”
Ms Seymour said she was really grateful for the support of her partner Jane Setter and their four children aged 23, 21, 18 and 16 years.
“Jane takes care of the day-to-day things while I’m studying and the kids are quite independent now.”
Mr Langabeer said 49 course enrolments in TPP and Head start with a 90% retention rate had been achieved at USQHub@Maryborough since it opened just six months ago.
“The first cohort of the TPP, IHEPP and Head start students at USQHub@Maryborough have just finished exams and awaiting results to gain access into the undergraduate degrees,” Mr Langabeer said.
“These students are good examples and are leading the way for many others to follow in their footsteps.
“More than 30 students enrolled in USQ programs living in the Maryborough region are accessing the Hub services too.”
Photo: Annette Seymour is looking forward to studying archaeology externally while using the university resources at USQHub@Maryborough next year.