Rachael Willika, from the remote Aboriginal community of Manyallaluk in the Northern Territory, will be the first Jawoyn community person to attend university after successfully completing the Flinders University Foundation Studies course.
Flinders University’s Foundation Studies Course enables people from all walks of life to begin their university studies – there are no prerequisites and students who pass the program are guaranteed entry to a range of undergraduate degrees.
Ms Willika, who came to Adelaide earlier this year to get better schooling for her two children and two grandchildren, decided to enrol in the Foundation course after being encouraged by Flinders University staff.
She plans to undertake a Bachelor of Education program in 2012.
“Even though it was difficult at times, I never gave up. I don’t want to give up. I want to achieve like any other people that are living today in Australia. I want to help my people to achieve what I have achieved here in Adelaide,” Ms Willika said.
Professor Claire Smith of the Department of Archaeology has been running field schools in Jawoyn country since 1998, and has worked with Ms Willika since 1990.
“Rachael had many obstacles to overcome,” Professor Smith said.
“Her first language is Kriol, so she was learning in English as a second language. She had to learn to type. She had four children to look after. The fact that she has succeeded is testament to her determination to create a better life for herself and her children,” she said.
“A new collaboration between Flinders University and the Jawoyn Association, which aims to help Jawoyn people attain university qualifications, will build upon Rachel’s success.”
Wes Miller of Nitmiluk Tours, which is owned by the Jawoyn Association said: “Rachel Willika is a role model for other Jawoyn people to follow their aspirations, far beyond the confines of their own communities.”
Dr Giselle Bastin, who teaches in the Foundation Course said: “Whether you are interested in becoming a teacher, social worker, health professional, or want to study business, science or the arts, the Flinders Foundation Studies Program can help you to achieve your goals.”
Aboriginal students are eligible to receive support from Yunggorendi First Nations Centre for Higher Education and Research.
PHOTO: (from left) Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber, Rachael Willika and Chancellor Stephen Gerlach AM