Shiralee Lawson

Social Science
Winter 2018

I had just made the ­­­­decision to transition from part-time study to full-time to focus on completing my undergraduate degree when I stumbled across an email requesting applications for the Aurora Internship Program. After a few discussions about whether or not I should apply or wait for the next round once I settled back into study, I decided to take the plunge – and I am so glad that I did!

I managed to secure a placement with The Aspiration Initiative (TAI) program coordinated and delivered by the Aurora Education Foundation from their Sydney office. I could not have dreamt for my first day to be any better. I was greeted in the office by each and every Aurora staff member before I came face to face with one of the most influential Aboriginal Elders from my hometown that played a huge part in shaping my own academic journey. I had the pleasure of working with Aunty for the first two weeks of my placement.

I came in at a time when TAI was going through some big and exciting changes. I got to see and contribute to how much planning goes into creating and delivering an academic camp targeted at Year 8 students from risk assessments to curriculum. It was incredible to see how Indigenous culture intertwines with literacy and numeracy to create an innovative and unique way of delivering curriculum.

The most amazing and memorable part of my internship was being invited to attend the TAI camp with Year 8 students in Western Australia. I knew instantly how privileged I was to be afforded this opportunity and jumped at the chance.

After overcoming some hurdles, I got to meet an incredible group of young Noongar men and women, Elders and staff who hosted me for one week in Perth. This was when it clicked, the light bulb went off and I came full circle. I could see how all of the behind the scenes planning translated into real life. How TAI was empowering, engaging and supporting Indigenous youth and helping them realise and achieve their potential academically and culturally. I was honored to hear stories about how these young men and women were overcoming barriers to achieve their goals that not only benefited them personally, but their families and communities too. The Aunt and Uncle connected with TAI in Perth welcomed me with open arms and I am so grateful to have been able to sit and learn from them.

I am so pleased that I did take the plunge and applied to be an intern with Aurora. It has played a huge part in validating my degree choice and helped me to focus on a clear path toward working in Indigenous education. As an Aboriginal woman, it was wonderful to be involved in a program where culture is the foundation. Aurora was supportive and encouraging during my placement and I have no hesitation in recommending the Internship Program. The skills, networks and experience that you will gain are invaluable.