Flinders University student Lianna Brown has become the first person to complete senior secondary schooling in a very remote Indigenous community in the Northern Territory and graduate from university.
From Kalkaringi, a community located 460km south-west of Katherine, Lianna crossed the stage on Tuesday, April 15 to collect her Bachelor degree in Cultural Tourism, and in the process made history.
The former Kalkaringi Community Education Centre graduate was one of 2,124 Flinders students to graduate from the University this month – more than 100 more than for the same time last year.
Lianna said she was inspired to pursue Cultural Tourism by the potential opportunities she saw around her local community and the possibility of establishing a long and stable career in the industry.
Although there were times when she found it hard to be so far away from home, Lianna said the support she received from her family and Yunggorendi First Nations Centre, the University’s Indigenous Centre, was instrumental in helping her complete her degree.
“When I was homesick, my family encouraged me to finish my studies, which was something I ultimately wanted for myself,” she said. “It was a pretty hard task for me to complete, but it was worth it, especially with the job I’m working in now.”
“I’m really happy with what I’m doing and I’m pretty proud of myself for graduating today.”
Earlier this year, Lianna was employed as a park ranger at Timber Creek in the Gregory National Park in the Northern Territory, and believes the skills she learned during her degree have enabled her the to carry out her new role with confidence.
“The topics have given me a lot of confidence within my job, especially now when I’m having to deal with issues like cultural heritage management and park management on a daily basis,” she said.
Lianna’s work has involved the development of a series of slideshows and guided tours around the National Park.
She hopes her achievement in graduating and subsequently gaining full time employment will inspire other Indigenous students expand their educational horizons.
“I’ve already been back to Kalkaringi and spoken with a lot of Year 12 students to encourage them to keep going,” she said. “My little brother is in his final year of high school now and I’ve told him he’s not allowed to stop when he graduates, he has to go on and study at University.”
“If I can do it, so can they and although it can be a hard task at times, it is well worth it.”