Ms Beinke accepted her Health Sciences degree at this week’s graduation ceremonies where she also received the Ken Wanganeen Medal for 2012.
The Medal, which honours Flinders University’s second Indigenous graduate, the late Ken Wanganeen, is awarded to the Flinders Indigenous student with the highest Grade Point Average in the final two years of an undergraduate degree.
Ms Beinke is now in the first year of a postgraduate medical degree at Flinders.
Ms Simone Ulalka Tur, Director of Yunggorendi First Nations Centre at Flinders (pictured, left, with Ms Beinke), congratulated Jessica as one of a record 25 Indigenous people to graduate this week from 19 courses that include Cultural Heritage Management, Public Policy and Speech Pathology as well as the areas of Arts and Education.
“We are proud of the role Yunggorendi, together with staff and students across the University, has played in supporting Indigenous education since 1990. It is particularly gratifying to note that several students have chosen to return to Flinders to complete a second degree,” Ms Tur said.
Flinders now has over 260 Indigenous alumni.
Ms Beinke came to Flinders part-time three years after leaving high school: she and her twin sister, now a paramedic, are the first people in her family to undertake university education. Her father, a Ngadjuri man, grew up near Mundoora in the mid-North of SA; Ms Beinke, though, describes herself as a “city kid”.
While initially nervous about study, Jessica said she found that there was plenty of support available.
“I had ITAS [Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme] tutoring in the first and second year of my undergraduate degree, and I’m getting it now, and it’s been really, really helpful.”
The idea of going on to study medicine came in Jessica’s second year of nutrition and dietetics, when a strong interest in the basic medical topics took hold.
“I wanted to know more,” she said.
After completing her degree she expects to work as a GP, although ideally she would like to specialise in dermatology.
Based on her own experience, Ms Beinke’s advice to other Indigenous people considering university study is unequivocal: “Do it!”