Pathway to education

July 21, 2017

Jenna Woods gained a Bachelor of Arts thanks to support from Murdoch's Kulbardi Centre.

Aboriginal students are now travelling on the road to academic success, thanks to the award-winning K-Track bridging program at Murdoch University.

The 14-week course equips students with key skills to gain an alternative pathway into a broad range of undergraduate degrees and is available for study on campus or online.

Despite failing year 10, Jenna Woods gained a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Community Development and Political Science, and is now completing a Research Masters Degree, thanks to the educational and social support she received from staff and other students at the Kulbardi Centre.

She plans to pursue a PhD and make a significant contribution to Aboriginal-led research in areas broader than health.

While a body of evidence-based research about Aboriginal communities is available, Jenna says it is often generated by non-Aboriginal researchers who don’t have the depth of understanding that Aboriginal academics can contribute.

“I want to bring the voice of Aboriginal experience from the community level into the academic space and provide evidence-based research that will produce positive change.

“I originally thought that I could set myself and my son up with a Law Degree or something like that. However, I soon realised that, even if our household was well off, my son will still grow up in the same extended family and community, so he will still experience those collective social issues.

"I want to support positive growth in my community so that we all move forwards together. I believe this is how I can give my son the best future.

“It’s very hard to argue for policy or funding changes these days without evidence and that’s what motivates me.”

Kulbardi Centre manager Braden Hill said K-Track had helped launch many students on the path to success.

“We believe that education is freedom. It means you have choices and can make the decisions that you want, rather than what others expect of you,” he said.

“What Jenna and others have done is set up a culture in their families so the expectation is that university is the best option for Aboriginal people.”

Jenna said her success was all down to K-Track which taught her the basics — such as how to write — and helped build her self-esteem and confidence, provided the social support she needed to keep coming back each week and introduced her to a wide network of people who have inspired and mentored her along the way.

K-Track recently won the prestigious 2017 Vice Chancellor’s Award for Programs and has been nominated for the Australian Awards for University Teaching.

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Media contact: Thomas Smith
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Categories: General, Future Students, Domestic students
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