Culture, connection, encouragement taking Rocky mum global
[by Mary Bolling]
Amy Mann. Image: supplied
Earning a New Colombo Plan scholarship means Indigenous woman and psych student Amy Mann is headed to Japan.
When Amy Mann first started university, she describes her experience as “failing miserably”.
Now her determination to get a degree is taking the Rockhampton mum and her family across the globe.
Attempting Nursing then Laws after high school, Amy decided study wasn’t for her, and got on with life.
By kicking goals in her career as a paralegal, and having completed a Diploma of National Indigenous Advocacy, a change in employment allowed Amy to revisit her uni dreams.
“I had a career, two children and husband, and it came to a point where I said, ‘I still want a degree, and I’m going to go and get it!’” Amy said.
Now in her second year of CQUniversity’s Bachelor of Psychological Science, the proud Indigenous woman said her very first days on campus helped her set a new life goal – and a New Colombo Plan scholarship means Amy is on her way to achieving it.
“It was Orientation Week at the Rockhampton campus, and I walked up to a stall for CQUGlobal Outbound, promoting opportunities for CQU students to study overseas,” she said.
“I had a bit of a yarn and said, ‘I’d love to do this, but I can’t even look at something like that, I’m too old and I’ve got a family to think about’.”
“The Study Abroad Coordinator she said to me, ‘Amy, don’t ever say can’t – there’s students with overseas scholarships right now, who have taken their whole families with them!’.”
“That advice lit a fire for me, and from week one, that’s been my goal, to get the results I needed to apply for an international scholarship, as well as shaping my future career, and eligibility for the Psychology Honours program.”
The Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan Scholarships recognise undergraduate students for academic excellence, community leadership, and resilience and adaptability.
Amy is one of 150 recipients for 2024 nationally, and three at CQU.
She plans to travel to Japan with her family husband and two sons, and complete a semester of studies at Toyo University, Hakusan in Tokyo.
“It feels like I’m realising my wildest dreams!” Amy said.
“I’m so passionate about learning and understanding other cultures, and to share my culture too – and this opportunity means I can also be a role model for my children.”
Amy says CQUniversity’s Indigenous Student Engagement team has helped guide her successful return to university studies and acknowledges the commitment they have to guide and help students achieve.
She also acknowledged the influence of her mother and father, and the pathways they set for her, embedding resilience and determination.
She said her family and friends also continue to support her during her aspirations, trials and triumphs.
“I can’t speak highly enough of my support team, they have absolutely been my strength – especially when juggling assignments and family life gets overwhelming,” she said.
Amy’s husband is a proud Indigenous and South Sea Islander man, and their sons Carter and Parker are both in primary school.
“Both of our boys are really interested in Japanese culture, and a sushi restaurant is the only place our family can eat out without everyone running amok!” she laughed.
“I remember making friends with Japanese exchange students when I was in primary school, and them teaching me how to do origami – those memories stay with you, and I’m excited to see my boys absorb the language, explore another culture and connect with local kids.”
The international study builds on Amy’s first overseas experience, participating in the Indigenous Youth Leadership program where she volunteered in the remote community of Narango in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu in 2009.
“That turned my world upside down, and opened my eyes to so many things – especially the warmth and understanding that can be gained by being in the same space as people from different cultures,” she said.
“I learnt a lot from the Indigenous people of Vanuatu, and I felt so privileged to do that – it’s something I wish more people had the opportunity to do.”
Amy hopes to do psychology research after her degree, and explore how connection to culture impacts social and emotional wellbeing.
“The barriers and adversities I’ve faced, have been greatly influenced by the loss of culture within my family, resulting in disconnectedness and the intergenerational trauma we have lived with and continue to combat,” she said.
“It’s a very heavy experience, but I want to be in a position to understand and facilitate self-determination and contribute toward strengthening communities in my future career.”
With plans to jet off next September, for now Amy remains focused on her studies, and is pinching herself about what she’s already achieved.
“If you’d asked me ten, even five years ago, whether anything like this would have happened I would’ve thought it was unattainable!” she said.
“Now, I want my family and everyone to realise their capabilities and to say, ‘hey, if Amy can do it, I can do it too’.”
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