Oscar Davis’ first encounter with Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) was as a 17- year old student at Varsity College when he was offered tutoring with a Bond Law student.
Oscar, who like many high school students was struggling with the sheer volume of schoolwork and pressure on his shoulders, gratefully accepted the tutoring support of his mentor AIME Program Manager Robbie Miller.
The purpose of AIME is to support Indigenous students through high school and into university, employment or further education at the same rate as all Australian students. The program partners university students with Indigenous school students, from Grades 5 through to 12, as mentors - and brings them together through a series of regular workshops, presentations and tutoring sessions.
Robbie not only helped Oscar through Year 12, but he told him about Bond’s Indigenous support programs and scholarships and assisted him with his application.
Oscar was awarded a Bond University Indigenous Pathways Scholarship to study at Bond in 2014. Just over two years later, he has completed a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy and Criminology) and has just heard he’s been accepted into Bond University’s Master of Philosophy program, commencing this month (May 2016).
Oscar’s ultimate goal is to become an academic and teach; a passion which was fuelled largely by his involvement as a mentee, and then mentor, of the AIME program at Bond.
Following his positive experience as an AIME mentee at Varsity College, Oscar jumped at the chance to become a mentor when he started at Bond.
“I received so much as a mentee and had come so far, I really wanted to give back,” he said.
“As a volunteer AIME mentor, I work with Indigenous high school students from across the Gold Coast. I tutor, visit schools, read stories and present on topics like racism and cultural identity, as well as mentoring individual students to help them through the challenges they’re facing.
“During my time as a mentor, I have been heavily involved with the students from my old school Varsity College. In fact one of the students from Varsity I mentored, Gabrielle Jefferies, is now here at Bond studying Film and TV on a Bond Indigenous Pathways Scholarship too.
“Being a mentor made me realise not everyone has access to the same opportunities in terms of education, but that support is available, through programs like AIME.
“The mentoring experience gives you the chance to help young kids learn, which in turn helps you learn more about yourself, your identity and your culture as well.
“I really enjoy presenting at school and universities, and was lucky enough to participate in a nationwide ‘Theatre of Education Summit’ in Sydney through AIME recently.
“The incredibly positive experiences I’ve had as an AIME mentor has been a major contributor in my wanting to become an academic and teach other young people.
“I really don’t think I would be where I am today without AIME.”
Bond’s mentors are a blend of Indigenous, non-Indigenous Australian and International students of varied ages from across all faculties.
Tom Wensley, Centre Manager for AIME said Bond currently has 57 student mentors but is on the lookout to recruit new mentors in the coming weeks ahead of their next workshop in the first week of June.
“Regardless of your background, your culture, what you’re studying or what you want to do when you graduate, being an AIME mentor gives you the opportunity to do something meaningful; something that matters,” Tom said.
“It’s a really practical way to help close the gap in Australia by transitioning students from school to full time employment, or university, or a trade – depending on what their goals are.
“For our mentors, it’s a great chance to gain leadership skills, learn about Indigenous culture and learn more about themselves.
“It’s also really good fun. You’ll meet people, learn a lot, and you’ll grow – all in all, plenty of good reasons for Bond University students to be involved!”
The 2016 AIME program at Bond consists of 8 program days, with Years 5 to 12 students coming to campus, meeting with their mentors and participating in workshops.
The workshops cover a broad range of activities and learning opportunities, including drama, art and talent competitions through to more serious sessions on topics like identity, empathy and drugs & alcohol.
The next AIME experience day at Bond is on Wednesday, June 1.