First Nations scholarship students from high schools across Central Queensland celebrated their graduation at CQUniversity's Rockhampton and Mackay Campuses this week (23-24 August).
The graduation ceremonies acknowledged the dedication and achievements of more than 90 students who were supported by the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation (QATSIF).
QATSIF provides scholarships for students to attend and succeed at high school' funded through the interest generated by unclaimed stolen wages repayments from an early reparations round.
The 2022 graduates travelled from 18 different schools to gather in person and celebrate their achievements alongside their peers' school teachers and community.
As part of the event activities' audiences were treated to deadly performances by St Brendan's College Torres Strait Islander dance troupe in Rockhampton.
While in Mackay' Georgina Baira' a Year 7 singer from Mackay State High School and Amelia Bishop' a Year 8 poet from Mackay North State High School both performed as part of the event.
CQUniversity Senior Coordinator- Student Engagement' Mr Wes Heberlein provided the welcoming address' congratulating the students for their dedication and commitment to their high school studies under the challenging circumstances of COVID-19.
"You have demonstrated an incredible amount of determination and self-confidence in finishing Year 12'" Mr Heberlein said.
"Today is a time to celebrate your successes and the support and encouragement from the key people in your life."
QATSIF has been a long-term supporter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education in regional areas.
In 2022' the not-for-profit trust has helped 3900 students to succeed in their studies with more than 250 of those students graduating from 39 different Central Queensland schools.
QATSIF Secretariat Director Michael Nayler said he was proud to see the next generation of future leaders ready to take the next steps in their careers and studies.
"These new graduates have joined more than 14'300 students who have been supported by the foundation over its past 13 years' many of which have achieved great success in their chosen professions.
"QATSIF aims to foster an environment for impactful leaders who are passionate about positive change.
"Currently there are 202 QATSIF students in school senior leadership roles including 22 School Captains and 11 Vice-Captains'" Mr Nayler said.
"This year's cohort achieved an astounding amount with five students out of the last seven Highest Achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Queensland.
"We have had five receive 7News Young Indigenous Achiever awards' including two overall Queensland winners.
"We also supported 18 out of the total 22 Peter Doherty Outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM award recipients."
Mr Nayler also congratulated the schools' parents' Elders and loved ones who contributed to these great achievements.
"I would also like to acknowledge the massive efforts put in by all of our schools and communities who educate' take care of and support these incredible students'" he said.
"Especially the love and support of all of our parents' carers and families that have nurtured and shaped their lives for the better."
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