UNE student wins Governor-General’s Scholarship

Published 05 September 2012

Jasmine Sweeney, a student at the University of New England, has been awarded the Governor-General’s Indigenous Student Teacher Scholarship for 2012. This highly-regarded award will assist Jasmine in her Bachelor of Special Education (Primary) / Bachelor of Disability degree program, which she aims to complete in three-to-four years.

Jasmine is an Adnyamathanha woman from the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, and lives in Bellingen, NSW. “I’ve loved studying with UNE,” she said. “The convenience of doing my degree externally has made it possible to continue to study, even through financially tough times.”

The Governor-General’s Indigenous Student Teacher Scholarship has been awarded to eight teacher education students each year since 2010 by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The scholarship offers Indigenous university students assistance with full-time study costs, mentoring, and support in obtaining their degree.

Chosen from more than 1,000 applicants as one of this year’s recipients, Jasmine Sweeney demonstrated to the selection committee strong academic attributes, and commitment to a teaching career of excellence and to the life-long value of education for young Indigenous Australians and communities. “I totally couldn’t believe being chosen out of so many applicants, but my children said right from the start that I would get it,” Jasmine said. “I guess they were right!”

Addressing the scholarship recipients at a ceremony held at Government House in Canberra, the Australian Governor-General, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, said: “Not only are you practitioners and advocates in the making; each of you stands as testament to the transformative power of education.” Jasmine attended with her daughter and then joined the Governor-General for afternoon tea.

“When I graduate I would like to specialise in designing learning programs and raising awareness on how to communicate successfully with children who have behavioural disorders,” Jasmine said. “I think it’s a huge problem in the classroom these days, and I feel that these children get stereotyped as trouble-makers. This affects their self-esteem and the quality of their lives, and can have a permanent negative impact.

“Indigenous children are also often labelled in this manner for simply being true to their culture and beliefs. For example, not having eye contact in white society is seen as disrespectful and having something to hide, whereas in my culture it is a sign of respect. Teaching is about communicating successfully on all levels.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show the Governor-General, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, presenting the scholarship to Jasmine Sweeney.