Featured News Students thrive at Winter School

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Wed, 28 Jun 2023

Students thrive at Winter School

Winter School Student Ashleigh Burton, 17, from Mareeba State High School, and JCU Medicine Student and Indigenous Student Ambassador Myles McKenzie.
Winter School Student Ashleigh Burton, 17, from Mareeba State High School, and JCU Medicine Student and Indigenous Student Ambassador Myles McKenzie.

The next generation of scientists, lawyers, social workers and medical professionals have been given a taste of tertiary education thanks to an innovative James Cook University program.

Almost 100 Indigenous high school students from across Queensland and the Northern Territory have converged on JCU’s Bebegu Yumba Campus in Townsville for Winter School, an annual five-day program dedicated to academic excellence and team-building activities.

Indigenous Education and Research Centre Student Programs Coordinator Emma Iwikau said the students, some from the remotest parts of the country, were thriving in the tertiary environment.

“They have come from far and wide. We have students from as far away as the Torres Strait Islands, Bamaga, Inverell, Alice Springs and Darwin,” she said.

“They’ve all adapted really well and I’m pleased to see students not just sticking with their own group but taking the opportunity to meet kids from other locations and share their own unique experiences.”

The students, who come from years 10 to 12, were able to choose to study Law, Medicine and Dentistry, Nursing and Midwifery, Math and Science, Indigenous Studies, Social Work, Marine Science, Allied Health or Veterinary Science and Biomedicine.

JCU Indigenous Student Ambassador and Winter School alumnus Rikishia Phineasa gave the welcome speech for students on Monday and advised them to follow their dreams.

“Rikishia is now in her third year of a Bachelor of Arts - Bachelor of Laws majoring in Indigenous Studies and it was nice to hear about her journey and how something like Winter School can potentially set them up for a really great opportunity,” Ms Iwikau said.

In addition to their studies, students also participate in cultural and sports activities. But Ms Iwikau said the bulk of the group’s time was taken up with study in preparation for their final assessment on Thursday – emulating a true university environment.

“The idea of the program is for the students to learn content related to their chosen discipline, build up their knowledge and then apply it to a scenario for an assignment,” she said.

“It’s about challenging themselves to do something under pressure in a few days, which builds their confidence and capacity so they not only come back next year and see uni with new eyes, but they also go back to school with a new sense of what they’re capable of.”

Year 12 Mareeba State High School student Ashleigh Burton said her dream of becoming a primary school teacher inspired her to apply for Winter School.

The 17-year-old chose Indigenous Studies as her discipline and has thrived in the Winter School environment.

“It’s important to learn about your culture, and the cultures around you,” she said.

“I’ve learnt about bush medicine and Indigenous astronomy. I’ve also built great friendships with my new classmates and learnt about them and where they’re from.”

The week will culminate with a graduation ceremony and dinner on Thursday before the students return home the next day.

For more information about the Winter School program, head to www.jcu.edu.au/ierc/pathways-to-study/winter-school.


Media enquiries: michael.serenc@jcu.edu.au