Indigenous scholarship helps big things grow
[by Victoria James]
Scholarship recipient Thomas Scanlan with Kev Carmody. Image: supplied
The inaugural recipient of The University of Queensland Kev Carmody Scholarship has met the celebrated singer-songwriter at the official unveiling of a mural at the St Lucia campus.
Proud Jarowair man and environmental science student, Thomas Scanlan, is pursuing his studies at UQ with support from the first Kev Carmody residential scholarship.
Thomas joined students in a yarning circle with Mr Carmody, when the singer visited to view a portrait painted in his honour at the entrance of Kev Carmody House.
Thomas moved into the student residence earlier this year and is receiving support with accommodation costs while he finishes his studies.
“I am one of the first in my family to go to university, so this opportunity is important to me and my family,” Thomas said.
“My mum grew up in Cherbourg and left school at 11 – opportunities didn’t come to her, so my parents pushed me to get an education.
“Studying environmental science has strengthened my connection to Country and I’m aiming to merge the knowledge I gain through my degree with the knowledges of my mob as traditional carers of the land.
“This scholarship means I can focus on my studies, rather than spending hours travelling or worrying about financial stress, so it’s a huge weight off my shoulders.
“Seeing the mural of Kev when I walk in gives me such a great feeling – it makes me feel like this is a place for all of us.”
UQ Professor of Indigenous Education, Professor Tracey Bunda, said the mural was a fitting backdrop for Kev to share stories with Indigenous students.
“Kev’s story is all about breaking down barriers in the pursuit of education and it’s important we encourage and support all students to pursue their passions, regardless of their background, location, or financial circumstances,” Professor Bunda said.
“Scholarships are one way we can do this and financial reasons are the most common challenge preventing Indigenous peoples from pursuing further study according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
“We want to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives are represented and celebrated across our community at UQ and in future workforces.”
Kev’s portrait features words from the land rights oral history song From Little Things Big Things Grow, which the Bundjalung-Lama Lama man co-wrote with Paul Kelly.
“I didn’t learn to read and write until I was 10, but once I started to dive deep into the written and spoken word through music – including during my studies at UQ – the world took on a new meaning for me,” Kev said.
“Having a yarn with these young people here today and hearing about their passions and the opportunities they are taking is special.
“Supporting this new generation to access education is helping us to speak for ourselves – this is such a positive step forward.”
Indigenous artist Dr Jandamarra Cadd was commissioned to paint the mural in the Kev Carmody House foyer.
“Uncle Kev and this song encapsulate something very powerful about the spirit of Aboriginal people, but also the spirit of coming together,” Dr Cadd said.
“This piece represents unity and healing on a fundamental level and bringing the truth into the open, as we walk together.
“I hope that when students walk by the mural, it entices them to stop for a moment and wonder about Kev Carmody and what his song represents.”
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