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Aboriginal students honoured in graduation in Alice Springs

[by Jessica Evans]

Indigenous student Violet Hildebrant graduates this week from Charles Darwin University (CDU) Alice Springs campus with a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood). Image: supplied

An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student in Alice Springs who is the first to graduate from her family, is among more than 30 Indigenous students who have graduated from Charles Darwin University's (CDU) Central Australia graduation ceremonies.

It comes as CDU is set to celebrate the academic achievements of more than 200 students from its Alice Springs campus this evening.

Graduates will be recognised for their academic achievements across a range of disciplines with 54 Higher Education students and 144 VET students, six Doctorate (PHD) award recipients, including a total of 34 identified Indigenous graduates.

Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) graduate Violet Hildebrandt was this year’s Indigenous Student of Excellence and was chosen to deliver the graduate response at this year’s Indigenous Valedictory Ceremony. 

Ms Hildebrandt is a proud Gurindji, Kungarakan and Ngen’giwumirri women who grew up in Alice Springs and went to Ross Park Primary and Anzac Hill High School, but never finished high school.

Ms Hildebrandt admitted that growing up she did not have the role models she needed to finish school or even think about university.

“I wanted to be someone who broke the stigma and give these kids a role model,” Ms Hildebrant said.

To complete her degree Ms Hildebrant first had to complete Preparation for Tertiary Success (PTS) and then enrolled in distance education through CDU.

“Distance education is hard as you have to manage your own time, but life is hard,” she said.

“The supports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students exist but you have to find them and use them.”

Ms Hildebrandt is the first person in her family to graduate from University and is now working in a fulltime position at Ross Park Primary where she hopes she can inspire even more students to complete their education.

CDU Associate Vice-Chancellor Jay Walker said he was excited that students will be able to celebrate their successes together for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Graduation is a momentous occasion for our students and their families, I am thrilled that they will get to mark this occasion with the celebration and ceremony in person this year,” Mr Walker said.

“To complete your study during a year of such uncertainty demonstrates your personal ability to face adversity and to pursue your future goals.”

The celebration which will be held on Thursday evening at the Alice Springs Convention Centre will be opened by Vice-Chancellor Scott Bowman with his welcoming address.

Guest speakers include Purple House CEO Sarah Brown AM and Bachelor of Nursing graduate Jessica Ford, who will be delivering the student address speech.

The Indigenous graduates will be further honoured at the Indigenous Valedictory Ceremony on campus at the Yarning Circle. 

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