My name’s Jermaine Rueben, I am originally from the Torres Straits Buda Island, I’ve lived in Broome for seven years and I am currently employed by Kimberly Training Institute as a lecturer.
My degrees, I’ve actually got several degrees, I’ve recently completed a Masters in Education and Bachelor of Applied Science in Community Development or Community Management and my first degree I’ve completed back in 2004 was a Bachelor of Business.
What inspired me to enrol in university? I commenced university doing a double degree in Business and Education and I guess seeing my dad being a teacher in my community it definitely inspired me to you know, and being a role model in my community as well for myself that I wanted to become a teacher and kicking off with the double degree, yeah I guess a young fella finishing school coming from a little remote community and it was a bit of a challenge in, you know, with the motivation, or not so much the motivation but the confidence in, you know, in standing in front of people that I didn’t know and with the thoughts of you know, doing a degree in education that I’d have to do it for the next four years, which sort of forced me into doing a single degree in Business and with the thoughts that I wouldn’t have to stand in front of the class and I guess I was wrong and it was just the same as doing a degree in Education and every single unit that I had to do a presentation.
The challenges that I had to overcome is leaving my community, leaving my family, being away from my brothers and sisters and away from my comfort zone and the things that I loved doing and I suppose you know, moving to a new environment and needing the money to survive as well and being a student was, you know, a poor student with no money trying to juggle life and you know paying for petrol, bus, rent, food, electricity, all that sort of stuff so it was definitely a struggle and, but I suppose it drove me to look at other opportunities that was there so you know I ended up with scholarships, cadetships and that worked in favour of myself to, I guess survive at university.
The first semester of university was a bit of challenge and I guess a struggle, the fact that you know I’ve come out of school and moving into an all new world where you know, it was about putting pen to paper and submitting on time and you know learning about all that sort of stuff. At the end of the first semester, looking at the results I was like, ‘oh I need to pick up my game here’, and look at you know improving my results and so you know second semester there was a bit of a change in you know in some of the stuff that I enjoyed doing, I had to sacrifice and you know concentrate on my studies and joining study groups and you know hanging out with my study buddies and you know working towards what I wanted to achieve.
There were times where you know I was struggling and I actually took six months off uni and I ended up in Cairns living with one of my cousin. No income, I wasn’t on Centrelink, I wasn’t on anything, relying on my mum’s income and you know ringing every week, ‘can you send me some money, send me some money’, and it was by that time I that I realised that this is not what I want to do and I gotta go back to university and complete my studies and that was actually the last, the final year of my studies where I decided to take six months off and it just didn’t work for me.
Studying Education at university, I suppose education is the key to everything in today’s world. We do need more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the field of teaching. You know we have a lot of communities that have non-Indigenous teachers and I believe that we should have our own teachers educating our own people and you know we know the issues that the community people or even in regional areas that the Indigenous people face. Having more of our people studying Education it would be awesome to see remote schools with mostly our people teaching in it.
If you’re struggling and you’re not sure how to, you know, get into university or you think that you can’t do it, there are a lot of help out there you know. Start off talking to you know the career people at your school, talk to your friends, you might have friends that are at university already. Talk to your parents, talk to your Uncles and Aunties, just get as much as advice.
My advice is get in there, apply to go to university, don’t let any barriers hold you back and seek as much advice and talk to people at your school, or outside of your school and yeah, go to university and have a go at it.
Jermaine is a lecturer from Badu Island in the Torres Strait, QLD. Now living and working in Broome, Jermaine has completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Community Development) and a Bachelor of Business. He is also currently studying for his Masters in Education. For Jermaine, one of his biggest influences was seeing his dad work as a teacher. Moving away for university was a struggle but he found financial support and assistance through a scholarship and a cadetship. Jermaine believes Indigenous communities can support each other to pursue higher education.