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Scholarship the key to success


Brigid Veale
12 March 2007
Teaching Indigenous children out west is a goal that former Casino meat worker and new Southern Cross University student Mal Kenny has set for himself.

And with the help of a Telstra Country Wide Indigenous Scholarship, Mal is well on his way to achieving that goal.

“The Telstra Indigenous Scholarship is fantastic. It was like a godsend,” he said.

Telstra Country Wide is committed to supporting Indigenous students, and has awarded two Southern Cross University students with $9,000 scholarships over two years.

After 21 years working his way up in the meat industry at Casino, Mal made a decision to change the direction of his life and enrolled in a Bachelor of Education (Primary).

With three kids of his own, Mal wanted a job that he loved and that gave him flexibility for his family.

“How can you not smile at kids?” he said.

“Kids are the funniest people on earth. My children make me laugh every day. I want a job where I am surrounded by smiling faces.”

Mal is studying fulltime at the Lismore campus and is planning on heading out west to teach when he completes the course in four years time.

“I would like to teach other Indigenous kids for a few years and eventually come back to this area. That’s where my roots are,” he said.

Last year, Mal completed Gnibi’s Foundation Program for Indigenous Australians.

The Foundation Program provides a pathway into university studies for people who need to brush-up on their skills base so that they can confidently approach university study.

“The 14-week course built my confidence for using facilities on campus – from using the computer programs to making a film; it was a very friendly environment,” Mal said.

With a couple of weeks at university now under his belt, Mal is confident that he will succeed.

“It feels like I have been thrown in the deep end, but I have tutors lined up at Gnibi. Gnibi has been a great resource, offering lots of help,” Mal said.

“I haven’t failed in anything yet and I never quit. When I made this decision to study, I knew there would be hard times, and not so hard times. And I knew it would be a challenge, but I won’t fail. I have that in me from my parents.”

Photo: Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Clark (left) and Sue Passmore, general manager, Telstra Country Wide Far North Coast NSW, congratulate scholarship recipient Mal Kenny.