How Indigenous Studies helped Miriam find her place
For many years, Miriam questioned her place in the world. As an Aboriginal child growing up in a white community, she never really found a place where she fitted in. It was this desire to learn more about her own heritage and how she fit into the world that led Miriam to a Bachelor of Arts (Indigenous Studies) from UniSA, through Open Universities Australia.
I found that Open Universities Australia was good because you were able to find the courses that you wanted, that weren't available at other universities, in a state that you lived in.
My name is Miriam. I'm studying Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies at the University of South Australia. I'm an Aboriginal teaching assistant so I have over 140
kids that are boarding. A couple of the boys called me mum and education for them would empower them to read contracts for land rights and Native Title issues and then they can advise their parents the elders so they're not going to get ripped off. They’re future leaders in their communities.
I went looking for a degree that would inform me more on the history and the impact that settlement made on the Aboriginal people. Having been an Aboriginal person and living in a white community, I wasn't classified as a white person and I wasn't allowed to be an Aboriginal person. I just wanted to see where I fit in to this world. I thought well maybe if I'm going to make a difference and I need to know what I'm talking about and funnily enough a lot of what I was saying is backed up with what I'm learning now studying online with the University of South Australia.
It's user friendly and when I did have problems, I would just email the lecturer on these forums and blogs. I've never known what a blog is until I started studying. As an undergraduate, you don't need to have an ATAR score, you don't need to have TAFE certificates, it allows you to study just for who you are, not for how clever your piece of paper says you are.
The importance of education
Miriam works as an Aboriginal teaching assistant at a boarding school just north of Perth. She understands the importance of education and, in her work, passes this on to her students so they are able to become leaders in their communities later in life.
“They get a bit of a talk to when they misbehave – get told a few of the realities in life,” says Miriam.
For her students, she knows that an education will help them be able to read contracts regarding land rights, and give them the knowledge to be able to negotiate and make sure their families are given fair treatment. In this way, knowledge is power for both Miriam and her students.
What appealed most to Miriam about enrolling through Open Universities Australia (OUA), were the options available to her online over an on-campus degree.
By undertaking an online degree, Miriam was able to enrol in the exact same course that was being taught on-campus in South Australia, but could study online from Western Australia.
In completing her studies, Miriam wants to learn as much as she can about the history and challenges that face Aboriginal communities.
“I thought if I’m going to have an opinion and make a difference, then I need to know what I’m talking about,” says Miriam. And with that drive, Miriam is learning more and more each week so that she can feel more confident than ever to pass on her knowledge to her young students. They couldn’t be in safer hands.
Whether you want to learn more about your own history, like Miriam, or you you’re not sure what degree would be the best fit for you, get in touch with Open Universities Australia here, or speak to one of their expert student advisors on 1300 513 044 to find out more.
This article was originally published by our friends at Open Universities Australia.