Jessica encourages school graduates to think big - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Jessica encourages school graduates to think big

6 Jan 2020

After taking the road less travelled to tertiary education, second-year USC Law/Criminology and Justice student Jessica Carruthers lives by a simple message – it’s never too late.

Jessica, 24, shared the story of her education journey with Year 12 students who recently graduated from the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation (QATSIF) scholarship scheme at a ceremony hosted by USC.

“I left high school without finishing Year 12 to start a hairdressing apprenticeship, and later found myself homeless for a time and also a young mum,” Jessica said.

“I didn’t fit in to mainstream schooling and I didn’t believe I was smart enough to complete study,” she said.

“When I had my son, however, I knew I had to find a way to get back to high school and then start planning my career.”

A recipient of a QATSIF Queensland Certificate of Education scholarship on her return to high school, Jessica said committing to finishing Year 12 was her first step towards building the type of future she wanted for herself and her son.

“The QATSIF scholarship allowed me to really focus on getting into university,” she said.

“For a lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students, completing Year 12 can be difficult, so the scholarship is of significant help.

“It’s also an important support network to normalise the experience and encourage young students not to give up, and no matter their age or situation know it’s never too late to make a positive change in their life through education.”

Karyn Baker from USC Indigenous Services said the recent QATSIF scholarship graduation was the second that USC has hosted in as many years.

“Prior to 2018, the graduation ceremonies were held in Brisbane, so it’s a huge benefit for students here on the north coast and surrounding regions to be able to attend closer to home,” she said.

“For USC Indigenous Services it’s a great opportunity to also see the success of a lot of senior high school students who have already been engaged in our programs supporting them to consider a university education.

“USC is committed to being part of the education journey right from high school and it’s a great feeling to see students start to view university as something that’s attainable and possible.”

— Megan Woodward

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