26 Nov

Ashley Marino is ever grateful for her time spent in The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation’s, Follow the Dream program. Starting in the program as a primary school student, she’s now studying a Bachelor of Science at UWA and living on campus at University Hall (UniHall).

The Follow the Dream program is supported by the UWA’s School of Indigenous Studies’ (SIS) High School Outreach Program which reaches students from over 20 locations, mainly in rural Western Australia to support their future career aspirations.

Ashley grew up in Albany with her older brother David where they attended Follow the Dream after school tuition sessions up until she graduated from Albany Senior High School. She says that from a young age she took hold of every opportunity the program presented including attending three annual Career Camps (2008, 2009 and 2010) which involved visiting Perth universities and exploring further education pathways available beyond high school.

“I attended the (SIS) Indigenous Science, Engineering and Health Camp held in Perth (2011) which led to me being nominated by the Rotary Club of Albany East to attend the National Youth Science Forum in Canberra in 2013 – this was the beginning of my passion for science,” she says.

This small taste of the science industry led to Ashley studying science at UWA where she is thoroughly enjoying learning more about the marine science field.

This year, she took on a leadership position with SIS where she assisted in supervising Indigenous students who attended the SIS WACE Revision seminar – the same camp she attended when she was in year 12. The students were eager to hear her personal experience as they could relate to growing up in a rural town and want to take advantage of opportunities to build their future.

“When I attended the seminar a few years ago I met several Aboriginal UWA students – one was Lyndal Evans, a Residential Advisor (senior level student leader) at UniHall. She encouraged me to study at UWA and to apply to live at UniHall and I haven’t regretted my choice since!” she says.

UniHall is pleased to have 15 Indigenous former Follow The Dream students from Broome, Carnarvon, Kalgoorlie, Albany, Northam and Hedland living at the Hall and studying a variety of courses at UWA, including arts, business, science, masters and orientation courses.

For the last 15 years, both programs have successfully supported Indigenous students to help them realise their education potential. The Program Coordinators say it is rewarding to see students further expand on these opportunities by taking on work experience and employment positions. UniHaller Travis Germain has successfully taken on work experience with BHP Billiton as a mechanical engineer – his dream job.

SIS and UniHall have had the pleasure of meeting Follow the Dream student groups from Albany, Esperance, Hedland, Karratha, Mt Lawley, Northam, Tom Price and Wickham this year. However, the year is not over yet with students from Broome, Kununurra and St Marys College visiting in the coming months.

Current UniHallers, Wendi Torres (St Mary’s College) and Joey Bin Omar (Broome Senior High School) participated in many SIS camps with encouragement from their coordinators and look forward to reuniting with their school when they visit in December.

Many UniHallers volunteer with both the Follow the Dream and SIS programs so they can encourage future Indigenous students to further their education after high school.

“I wouldn’t be at UniHall or UWA without their support,” Ashley says.

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