Bond University is seeing an increasing number of Indigenous students pursuing higher levels of education, with three students from the latest cohort of Bond University graduates alone opting to commence Masters or PhD studies this semester.
Among Bond's most recent graduates transitioning to their next phase of study are Dani Larkin, Oscar Davies and Chelsea Currie.
Ms Larkin has just completed a Master of Law focusing on corporate and commercial law, and will now embark on PhD studies examining the role of law and policy in Indigenous cultural identity and political participation.
Ms Larkin grew up on an Aboriginal mission outside Grafton and has worked in a legal capacity for a number of government agencies including the Australian Federal Police, Department of Public Prosecutions ACT, Australian Taxation Office and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service.
"My PhD research will look at Australia's colonial history and the effect it has had upon the deprivation of Indigenous human rights, and use that as a backdrop to analyse contemporary society and how we can increase Indigenous interaction with the political system," she said.
"In order for Indigenous people to fully exercise their citizenship rights in a political sense, there needs to be more active participation with the political system, so my research will look at ways we can increase Indigenous voting and also increase the number of Indigenous political candidates in Parliament.
"My pop was an Aboriginal elder who instilled in me the importance of embracing my cultural heritage, and my great grandfather was an influential Indigenous activist who was one of the founders of National Sorry Day.
"There is an enormous amount of influence throughout my family history, and I feel as if I am the next generation exploring these opportunities for change and stepping into that advocacy space."
Mr Davies was awarded a 2014 Bond University Indigenous Pathways Scholarship and recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy and Criminology).
He has commenced studying a Master of Philosophy, with his ultimate goal of becoming an academic and teacher fuelled by his involvement at Bond in the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME).
"Being a mentor with AIME has made me realise not everyone has access to the same opportunities in terms of education, but support is available," he said.
"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.
"The incredibly positive experiences I’ve had mentoring other young Indigenous students has been a major contributor in my wanting to become an academic and teach other young people."
Ms Currie was also a 2014 Indigenous Scholarship recipient, and graduated from Bond with a Bachelor of Business in June.
She will continue her studies at Bond as she transitions into a Masters of International Relations, with hopes to pursue a career in the political sphere.
"Donning the cap and gown to graduate from my business degree was such an exciting milestone for me, I have loved my time at Bond so far and enjoyed everything it has to offer," she said.
"I have always been interested in politics, but my career will ultimately depend on whether I pursue a business or international relations path - possibly as a director of strategy and growth in a company, or working in an Australian Embassy overseas.
"I am from the Mununjali tribe - one of the Aboriginal communities in South East Queensland and Beaudesert who form part of the Yugambeh people. No matter which path I follow, I will always make sure I use my education to give back to the Indigenous community."
Since 2012, Bond has invested more than $4.18 million in scholarships, bursaries, support services and outreach programs for Indigenous students, leading to a 79 per cent growth in Indigenous student numbers.