16 Jul

University Hall (UniHall) and BHP Billiton (BHP) are creating opportunities for current resident Travis Germain in ways which he did not believe were possible.

As a recipient of the BHP Billiton Iron Ore Indigenous Scholarship, Travis has been able to live comfortably at UniHall with funding support for his living costs and with BHP providing direct industry links to help get his career started.

Travis grew up in Kalgoorlie amongst a small community of family and friends. As an Indigenous, rural student moving into the ‘big city’ of Perth he found it challenging.  Most of his mates were on a gap year, whereas he had chosen to go straight from high school to study at The University of Western Australia (UWA).

“After about six months at UniHall you meet so many people and it starts feeling more familiar,” says Travis.

In his first year at UniHall Travis hadn’t applied for any scholarships even though he was eligible for many. It was Gabrielle Garratt from the School of Indigenous Studies (SIS) who helped him apply for scholarships in his second semester and this is how he won the BHP Billiton Iron Ore Indigenous Scholarship.

“It’s a pretty good scholarship! BHP actually put in the time and effort to catch up with you and they hold events where you can meet other scholarship holders,” says Travis.

With the funding provided going towards his UniHall accommodation fees, text books, stationery and a few treats for his room, Travis finds he doesn’t need to work. He says this is a major benefit for him as he can concentrate on his studies instead or shuffling his schedule to fit in casual employment.

One of the highlights for Travis has been the vacation (VAC) work announcements through the scholarship program. He was successful in two applications for VAC work in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 summer study breaks.

His first job was in the BHP Perth City Office where he undertook his placement as a general engineer. Travis says he was exposed to all different types of engineering such as civil, electrical, mechanical and other jobs.

“My BHP mentor was a mechanical engineer who showed me around for the first couple of weeks. I was also able to work closely with him on some projects,” says Travis.

His second placement was a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) position on Yandi mine site, a small town up north in the Pilbara Region. On site Travis gained invaluable hands-on experience where he used a vast range of equipment for a variety of projects.

This experience has solidified his mechanical engineering career path choice and Travis is now the first indigenous student to undertake his Master of Professional Engineering at UWA. This two year course will qualify him for a graduate position which he hopes will be at BHP as a mechanical engineer.

Travis says that having being brought up in Kalgoorlie, he saw first-hand the mining side of things. He hopes to build a career in the mining industry and with the support of UniHall, SIS and BHP Billiton he is now on the right path to reaching his dream job.

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