My name is Katina and I’m a Yawuru woman from Broome. I chose nursing because I think it’s important that us Indigenous nurses look after our Indigenous people. Twelve months into the course I fell pregnant with my beautiful daughter, but I was determined to finish my degree. Now I work at the hospital in Broome. I’m a mum and a nurse doing our mob proud. Studying higher education gave me a deadly career.
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My name is Katina, I’m a Yawuru woman from Broome and I’m a registered nurse. I grew up in Broome, I have a big family mostly of all women, like mostly aunties they work in health as well. I have a six year old daughter, Malaiah.
The process I went through to go to uni I first rang up, they sent me some applications. Because I was living Port Headland at the time, I had an interview on the phone with the Dean of Nursing and that went all well and then I just had to move to Broome.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect from uni. I thought it was easier than high school though, it’s a lot more flexible as in you don’t have classes all day, like you’ll have a break. I stayed on campus for the first year. It was a bit challenging for me as well only because I’m not used to sharing houses with a stranger and I was the only Indigenous person in the house. But it was really good, they were welcoming and yeah I really liked it.
My main challenge of going to uni was I fell pregnant after one year of doing uni, so that was a bit of a challenge that I had to stop for a couple of years. But that made me more determined, so I ended up finishing it.
When you’re studying nursing, there’s a lot of scholarships so I ended up getting the Commonwealth Scholarship that came in really handy because when you are studying you don’t really get a lot of money, especially living off ABSTUDY. So the Commonwealth Scholarship came in handy with just paying for books, nursing equipment that we may have needed and uniforms as well.
I used the Indigenous Support Unit*, they helped me with getting a tutor and that was really handy as I’m not too good with English, so they were able to just like mark my essay before I submitted it. I’d write what I’d say first and then the tutors were really handy because then they just edited it. Even though like there was a paper full of red marks, I knew myself that I wasn’t good at English but I just took that and learnt from that.
At high school I was actually really struggling because I did the TE, I found it really hard especially doing English and maths and that. Like English I really didn’t enjoy because I’m not too good at it, but I think that’s why it was hard because I wasn’t interested in the subjects, whereas at uni I was a lot more interested in it, so I was able to focus more.
What I would say to other young mums if they were also thinking of going to uni and doing nursing or maybe something else would be, to do it. There’s a lot of support out there even if you don’t have a lot of family support. There are a lot of support services it’s just about knowing who to talk to and where to go and that’s another advice, ask questions like all the time that’s how you get out. You just need to ask a lot of questions because shame really won’t get you anywhere, that’s something that I taught myself because I really was a shy kid growing up. At family barbeques mum would say, ‘You know go get your own food’ and we were like ‘No, mum too shame’, and she was like ‘You’re gonna starve’, and that’s just the same like as you would put it like to the world today, like if you don’t ask questions or if you don’t go for it yourself you’re going to get nowhere.
I think Indigenous people should pursue higher education because knowledge is power and if we do have the knowledge behind us we’re more capable when voicing our opinions and making a change especially within communities, it’s more better to work with our communities so that we get something out of it and it betters our communities as well, especially within a culturally appropriate way.
And just having a university degree or having a role in the community, it makes us feel important, makes family and friends proud of you. So we’re not only doing something for ourselves but we’re doing something for the community and you know it inspires the other little ones. You know, we don’t have that much Indigenous role models, so the little ones will definitely look up to us and just be inspired and then you know we’ll just have like an effect on the next generation and on the next generation so that we can become strong.
*Note: each university may refer to their local Indigenous support services in different ways e.g. Indigenous Education Units; Indigenous Support Units; School of Indigenous Australian Studies; Indigenous Institute etc., and may include Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language in the naming title, as relevant to the local area.
Katina See more of Katina
Katina’s first year studying nursing at university in Broome ended with one big challenge – she was pregnant with her now six year old daughter. For some this would mean putting off studies all together but this wasn’t the case for Katina. She was determined to finish her nursing degree and make a life for herself and her daughter. Katina succeeded with some financial help through a Commonwealth scholarship and academic support from the university’s Indigenous Study Support unit. Katina says being shame doesn’t do Indigenous people any good. She learnt this when she was a little girl from her Mum and has had to keep reminding herself throughout her young adult life. Now working as a nurse in the community health centre and hospital, Katina feels proud she is able to give back and says she is proof knowledge through education empowers.