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Christi crosses the graduation stage and creates generational change

Published:02 September 2021

(L-R) Associate Vice-President South-East Queensland Chris Veraa, Acting Vice-Chancellor and President Alastair Dawson, CQUni graduate and scholarship recipient Christi Chapman and Acting Chancellor Robyn Minchinton.

When CQUniversity First Nations student Christi Chapman crossed the graduation stage in Brisbane this week her dream to create generational change for her family became a reality.

The 30-year-old, who belongs to the Wakka Wakka people, officially completed her dual Bachelor of Accounting/Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management) as one of three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates.

Around 200 students graduated in twin ceremonies at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on 31 August.

The ceremony was the culmination of an emotional four-and-a-half-year journey for Christi, but she had a significant amount of support along the way, in the form of scholarships and well-deserved recognition.

“I feel a whole lot of emotions – pride mostly,” she said.

“Since submitting my last assessment I felt huge relief that no further studies were required. The day I received my grade I was ecstatic, and it really felt like a big weight had been lifted.”

She said her motivation to study at CQUniversity was to better herself and the next generations of First Nations people.

“I was 26 at the time and I had a Certificate IV in Education under my belt. I saw a lot of people I went to high school with accomplishing various things – university, families and here I was with not much.”

“I know everyone has their own path but mine took a little longer to get there. My biggest motivation to study was to create the generational change within my family. I wanted to set an example for my nephews and nieces that tertiary studies are achievable.”

She said she chose accounting and human resources to be a familiar face for First Nations people seeking help with finances and to improve rates of Indigenous unemployment.

Christi’s example and dedication earned her the Wangan and Jagalingou Clermont Aboriginal Community Development Fund (ACDF) Scholarship (now Clermont Aboriginal Community Development Fund (ACDF) Scholarship), which helped her pay for textbooks and travel expenses. She also received a CQU Travel Scholarship to undertake an exchange program at Endicott College.

During her studies she was also nominated in the 7News Young Achievers Awards, in which she was named a semi-finalist.

Support and assistance, including tutoring from CQUniversity’s Indigenous Student Engagement team also kept Christi on track with her studies.

“I had a lot of support from a lot of people over the years since I commenced in the Tertiary Entry Program until now and I just would like to thank them,” she said.

Christi now works as a Procurement Project Specialist at the Bank of Queensland in Brisbane.

“I have been fortunate enough to obtain casual employment through this department throughout my study breaks,” she said.

“I started as an intern through the Career Trackers Program and have built up my skills and I’m working in a role where I can apply some of those skills obtained in my degrees to this discipline as I work within the categories of Contingent Labour and Professional Services.

“My degrees have helped me in my role as I can understand how the business side of things is linked and how all departments are connected in various ways – especially Human Resources Management.”

Christi encouraged all First Nations people to consider tertiary education.

“First Nations people should go to university because honestly, not only will it create generational change, but it is a chance for them to make the change – to be educated and be able to create change within workplaces,” she said.

“CQU is an exceptional university to study at as it provides tremendous support and always engages with its students. There are many different areas to uni that are accessible – it is a whole different network and it is yours for the taking.”

The CQUniCares Scholarship program changes lives and CQUni is pleased to partner with Clermont Coal Operations Pty Ltd (Glencore) to make a difference in the lives of our students, their families and our communities.

Applications will soon open for 2022 scholarships. For more information and upcoming closing dates, please visit www.cqu.edu.au/scholarships.