Hi everyone, my name is Alana and I’m the recipient of the Kamener Scholarship for 2015. I’m from Ballarat, and my family come from the Wotjabaluk, Gunditjmara and Ngarrindjeri clans of Victoria and South Australia.
I’d like to share a little about my family and how they have shaped my aspirations. I come from a long line of strong Aboriginal people who have really strived to carve out places for themselves in a world that wasn’t always very receptive to them.
My mum told me a story about my late great-grandfather recently that summarised this. He moved his young family to Creswick in the early days away from the mission where he grew up. It was a much better life than where he came from. One of the main reasons he moved was so that his children could all be educated, something not possible at his mission.
Many years later, he would still go back occasionally to visit his family who still lived at the Framlingham Mission, near Warrnambool. My mum remembers being about 10 years old and asking if she could go with him to visit home. He would always say no, absolutely not, you have to stay here and go to school.
And this attitude, of making sacrifices for education, has been pretty integral to our family. My great-grandparents moved to a small town where they didn’t know anyone, took jobs running a railway station, and started a whole new life, just so their kids could go to school and have a chance.
Grandparents and parents teach you many lessons, but I think this was always one of the big ones.
My mum has also been a really strong proponent of the value of education for our family. She went back to university after she had her children, became a nurse, and in the last 12 years has built up a really solid foundation within her industry. She represents Victorian Aboriginal people on several national boards, and works day-to-day in a specialised Aboriginal health clinic.
Her dedication to her own education inspired me right from the age of 5 that university was actually a real possibility if you worked hard enough.
So, with that lesson well learnt by the time I hit secondary school, I set to it. I managed to attain an academic scholarship to Ballarat Clarendon College in 2008. Attendance at this fantastic school would not have been possible without it and I knew how lucky I was to be there.
Over my time at this school, I was inspired by so many incredible teachers, and there were a particular few that encouraged my love of education and ignited my interest in teaching as a career. They encouraged me to work hard, and as a result, I was able to get into Melbourne University on my own terms.
I am really proud of what I was able to achieve at that school, including a stint as school captain and being the first to introduce formal acknowledgement of country into some school events.
So now I’m at Ormond College. I’m studying Arts, particularly history and psychology, with the intention of progressing into the Master of Teaching (Secondary) after my undergrad. I want to teach kids the same way that the brilliant teachers I’ve had over the years have. Because I know that one great teacher can make a real difference.
This scholarship is really going to help me in achieving these goals. Being at Ormond means that I have all the support in the world behind me. It’s going to allow me to have a real sense of security going forward, with the rest of this year and also into my second year. It means I don’t have to worry about money or having a place to live, but that I can just focus on study and exploring all the opportunities that are available to me here.
For example, I was thinking about potentially applying for a leadership position at the college next year, and I feel fully confident going forward with that, knowing I can be sure I have the ability to stay here.
I would just like to say a huge thank you for the absolute generosity of the Kamener group and all who are contributing to my scholarship, because it means the world to me. You are all allowing me to achieve things I never thought would be possible, and continue my family’s hopes for me. I’m sure my great-grandfather would love to shake all your hands if he was still here.