She was hesitating about continuing her education, but just one day experiencing university was enough to change Mikaela Tattersall’s mind.
Mikaela is one of 168 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander students who travelled to the University of Sydney this week for the Wingara Mura – Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program.
The Dubbo College Senior Campus student is hoping to study to be a veterinarian. Growing up with “heaps of animals” from dogs to emus to sheep gave Mikaela a love for the great and small.
“Ever since I was little I’ve always had a passion for working with animals and my dad has always said to me ‘if you get a job where you love what you’re doing and you’re earning money, I’ll call that a win’”, she said.
“After a couple of times of losing animals, like everyone does in their lives, I thought ‘I want to be able to help animals and to save their lives’.”
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Despite wanting to be a vet, Mikaela said year 11 had been really stressful and made her question what she would do when school finished.
“I started to get really hesitant about going to uni and if I really want to put myself through more years of schooling. This trip came up and I thought ‘I’m going to go on it and see if it’s for me’,” she said.
After one day into the summer program, Mikaela had changed her mind. She said it had made her realise she could achieve anything she wanted.
It even cleared up her concerns about being able to afford university.
“It’s made me realise that if I do want to come to uni I’m fully able because there are people here who have been disadvantaged to the max and they’ve still made it. It’s motivated me to push and achieve my goals,” Mikaela said
As well as experiencing university classes, such as one in biomedical technology, Mikaela said they had also visited places like Taronga Zoo and Regional Bank Australia, with a bit of fun thrown in like silent discos.
University of Sydney’s head of widening participation and outreach Mary Teague said the success of the program was evident.
“Almost 40 students from the Summer Program on ATAR pathways undertook the Winter Program early this year. A third of those students enrolled at the University of Sydney in 2018 and another 20 program alumni enrolled at other universities around Australia,” Ms Teague said.