First Indigenous graduates of the Master of Indigenous Education celebrate their achievements

First Indigenous graduates of the Master of Indigenous Education celebrate their achievements

In achieving this milestone, Aunty Elaine Chapman and Emily Sutton have both worked and studied together in the University's Department of Indigenous Studies. The 67 year old and 28 year old have brought different perspectives to their studies, but have enjoyed learning, and now graduating, together.

"Whilst the course is offered externally we always joked about me being on campus all the time with my work!" says Emily. "I am exceptionally proud to be standing alongside Aunty Elaine as the first Indigenous graduates of the program – she is such an inspiration and mentor to me."

Both women also enjoyed graduation ceremony itself, with family and friends from around Australia joining them on campus.

"I'm really excited," says Emily. "I didn't attend my undergraduate ceremony as I had moved overseas so this will be my first graduation."

"My son is in the Northern Territory," says Aunty Elaine, "but he will be with me in spirit, as he is also doing the Master of Indigenous Education."

Aunty Elaine, employed as Macquarie's Elder in Residence, studied the Master of Indigenous Education because she loves learning about her history and culture.

"This degree allowed me to explore and study not only my Aboriginal history, past, present and future but also to compare this to other First Nations histories world wide," Aunty Elaine says.

"After retiring in 2000 I was inspired and pushed into entering the educational arena by an Aboriginal teacher at TAFE, Annie Vanderwick. Annie expected the best from her students and pushed Aunty Anita Selwyn and I to go from Certificates 1, 2 and 3 in Aboriginal studies to a Diploma of Aboriginal History then a Bachelor of Community Management.

"Now I have completed my Masters, I am very proud to be graduating at this ceremony and presenting the Student Response. It has been a long and challenging journey but with the help, encouragement and support of family and Warawara, I have made it!"

The Master of Indigenous Education program is the only postgraduate degree of its kind in Australia. It provides an in-depth understanding of the historical, contemporary and global issues faced by Indigenous Australia, to help in developing effective teaching practices and policies for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

After graduation, both Emily and Aunty Elaine hope to continue their work in supporting Indigenous students through their degrees and exploring their culture.

"Having now completed this exciting learning journey I intend to use the knowledge gained to help our young Indigenous students to embrace their culture with pride and enthusiasm and hopefully encourage them to explore their options for tertiary education," says Aunty Elaine.

"In my role as Elder in Residence I have the privilege of spending time with our students as well as within my local Aboriginal community to encourage these young people to achieve their highest potential."

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