IT WAS a proud moment for Annette Seymour of Maryborough when she graduated from the Indigenous Higher Education Pathways Program (IHEPP) at University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast in February 2015
“I’m very excited about graduating and am looking forward to the future,” she said after receiving her certificate from USQ’s Head of College for Indigenous Studies Professor Tracey Bunda.
Ms Seymour, 52, said doing the six-month IHEPP program had opened up endless possibilities for her future, starting with her university studies in archaeology that gets underway in early 2015.
“It will be so much different to the day-to-day work I was doing previously.”
Professor Bunda said the IHEPP graduation ceremony was the first of its kind at USQ Fraser Coast.
“Today is a day of celebration for the graduation of Fraser Coast IHEPP students. It’s a momentous occasion as it’s the first time such a ceremony has been held at USQ Fraser Coast,” Professor Bunda said.
“It is important to be able to bring family and friends together with the graduates and members of the community.
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the value of education might not necessarily be understood while at high school.
“To return to learning is about having confidence and feeling secure about coming into the university to get started.
“That’s a big ask for people who have been disengaged from education systems. The IHEPP program is an opportunity to build educational success.”
IHEPP Co-ordinator Dr Michael Gardiner said the program’s completion rate had increased significantly since it underwent a major restructure last year.
“In 2013 the completion rates for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were between 10 and 15%. Since the restructure in 2014, the completion rates are in excess of 60%.
“For USQ Fraser Coast, that has meant that for the first time it has been worthwhile to have an event such as this because we now have sufficient numbers graduating.
“To have six from a single cohort in the second half of 2014 graduate is exciting.
“It can only get better as word gets out in the community and people see more of the mob graduating and going on to undergraduate studies.”
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Caption: USQ’s Head of College for Indigenous Studies Professor Tracey Bunda (right) congratulates Annette Seymour on graduating from the Indigenous Higher Education Pathways Program (IHEPP).