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Community celebrates launch of University’s First Nations Scholarship program

Engaging and growing opportunities for future First Nations students
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When the community comes together great things can happen.

The power of this was on full display at an event this week, which saw the University of Southern Queensland, Pure Land Learning College and CatholicCare work together to boost opportunities for future First Nations students with the introduction of a new scholarship.

The First Nations Endowed Scholarship will open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students starting their undergraduate studies at the University in 2022.

University of Southern Queensland Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie activated the scholarship at an event on Wednesday morning.

“Education is key to increasing pathways to success for First Nations peoples,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“It is also the foundation that can lead to increased wellbeing across all other aspects of life.

“The University of Southern Queensland is committed to engaging and growing opportunities for future First Nations students to pursue opportunities in further education, and to increasing our numbers of First Nations students in the future.

“The endowed nature of this fund means that scholarship support will be provided to recipients into perpetuity, and we look forward to being able to make these awards every year in the future.”

Professor Mackenzie also thanked Pure Land Learning College and CatholicCare for their generous contributions to the scholarship program, which the University matched 2:1.

The Venerable Zhi Yang (Pure Land Learning College) said the Association was pleased to support the initiative, which represented similar values to its teachings.

“I am very impressed with the University’s values and culture – one of which is involving Indigenous Australians in higher education and employment,” Mr Yang said.

“I also commend their aim to attract, recruit and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to both academic and professional positions across the University.

“My teachings strongly advocate for this spirit of sharing and I believe this will bring greater prosperity for our society.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor (First Nations Education and Research) Professor Tony Dreise said scholarships were vitally important in the university sector.

“First Nations young people need opportunities and scholarships to help with the true cost of a university education,” Professor Dreise said.

“Some parts of Southern Queensland are doing it particularly tough in terms of providing these opportunities for young people.

“We need to make sure our young people are engaged in education and employment.

“And it’s only through collaboration, like we saw today, that we can help to turn that tide.”

four people standing outside
Celebrating the launch of the University of Southern Queensland’s First Nations Endowed Scholarship are (from left) Pro Vice-Chancellor (First Nations Education and Research) Professor Tony Dreise, University Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie, The Venerable Zhi Yang (Pure Land Learning College) and University of Southern Queensland’s Elder in Residence Uncle Wayne Fossey.