The transformative power of education and research is inspiring a JCU lecturer to make a difference for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Dr Vincent Backhaus was the first Indigenous Australian to graduate with a PhD in Education and Psychology from the University of Cambridge. A JCU alumni himself, he is now focused on supporting the next generation.
Vincent was awarded a Charlie Perkins Scholarship to pursue his postgraduate studies at Cambridge. His PhD, conferred in 2018, focused on identifying approaches to learning and ways of teaching to build stronger teacher-student relationships, improving curriculum and school climate.
“I came back and realised that my achievement at the University of Cambridge is our achievement for Indigenous peoples,” he says. “At the time it was a relief, it was a momentous change in thinking that we could have an Indigenous student aspire and transform the consciousness in how we think about Indigenous achievements and capacity. The University of Cambridge is one of many areas where Indigenous people’s visibility enhances those spaces and the understanding of Indigenous experience more broadly.”
Vincent’s postgraduate experience is now informing his work at JCU, where he is determined to increase research opportunities on offer to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and graduates.