Graduating is always a special moment, but it was extra poignant for father and son Robert Salt and Jordan Shillingsworth.
The duo graduated together from TAFE Western with a Diploma of Aboriginal Studies for Professional and Community Practice on Thursday, alongside 28 of their classmates.
“It’s quite an incredible achievement graduating with your son. I never thought I would see it happen,” Mr Salt said.
It was a proud moment for Mr Salt, as well as for teacher MaryAnn Seymour-Ryan.
“A lot of the time high-achieving young people take it for granted, but I never thought I’d see him part of a graduation at a tertiary level,” Mr Salt said.
Mr Shillingsworth said completing the course had been easier than he had expected.
He is now studying another TAFE Western course in hospitality, and hoping his achievements will encourage his younger siblings to continue their education.
Mr Salt said he initially joined the course support his son, but he had really enjoyed it.
”A lot of it’s been because it’s part of our culture. It’s what we’ve been taught by my mother and his grandmother, but a lot of it was new too,” Mr Salt said.
He described the experience as a jigsaw puzzle, with the course helping to fill in some of the pieces he hadn’t previously known.
It was also an emotional day for Ms Seymour-Ryan.
Speaking before the graduation ceremony, the teacher said she hadn’t written anything more than dot points for her speech because she knew she would be unable to say much without bursting into tears.
At least three of the students would be attending university next year, Ms Seymour-Ryan said- including one Aboriginal elder who would be studying law- others would be continuing their studies with TAFE, and numerous graduates were already working.
Since the TAFE started the Diploma of Aboriginal Studies for Professional and Community Practice in 2011, about 150 students had completed the course, Ms Seymour-Ryan said.