A nursing student from Bowraville and a social work student from Mungindi are this year’s winners of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council’s Freddy Fricke scholarship.
Maddison Smart and Peter Prince, both students at the University of New England’s School of Health, will use the scholarships to help pay for University fees, text books and other course related expenses.
Maddison, a Gumbaynggir woman in her second year at university, said she was inspired to study nursing by the Close the Gap campaign in Aboriginal Health.
“Completing this nursing course is very important to me and the community in which I grew up in, which has one small doctor’s surgery with one doctor practicing around the clock,” Maddison said.
After finishing her degree Maddison plans to gain work experience in rural and remote areas of the Northern Territory, but also intended to work back in her community of Bowraville.
“I would love to make a difference in closing the gap when my degree is completed,” she said.
Like Maddison, Gomeroi man, Peter Prince is keen to use his professional qualifications to help his community.
“I’d love to go back to Mungindi and help young Aboriginal kids to follow their dreams,” Peter said.
Peter is the seventh of 10 children and, despite obstacles throughout his education, is the first person in his family to attend university.
NSWALC Chairperson, Cr Roy Ah-See said the examples of Maddison and Peter showed why investment in Aboriginal education is so important.
“We hope the scholarships will not just benefit Maddison and Peter personally but also their home communities through their professional skills and the inspiration they will provide to other Aboriginal students,” Cr Ah-See said.
Since 2002, 43 Aboriginal university students have been awarded Freddy Fricke Scholarships.
Applications for the program will reopen later this year.