Larry's cover image
Larry

Larry BRANDY

Year of Award: 2011 Award State: Australian Capital Territory Education > Tertiary And Adult
To investigate strategies for increasing the number of Indigenous students at universities - USA, Canada, New Zealand

Larry travelled to Canada, the United States and New Zealand on his 2011 Fellowship to investigate strategies for increasing the number of Indigenous students at universities. He writes in his report that he ‘visited eleven universities, posted twenty blogs, saw six bears, and discovered moose soup, caribou hotdogs and bannock’. (Bannock is a flat bread, originating from Scotland.)

He interviewed staff and students about what inspired them to consider university and what barriers they faced. He discovered that the Maori students in particular suffered from home-sickness when they travelled to universities far away from their families. One of the Maori students he met told him about the difference one person can make in inspiring Indigenous school-leavers to go away to university: ‘It can come down to one key person in your past who encourages you…’

Once a student goes to university the value of education is recognised, for example, Larry met a Native Canadian student enrolled in the First Nations University in Regina, Canada, who shared the following metaphor with him: ‘Education is extremely important, it is the new buffalo. The buffalo has been eliminated so we can’t live off it any more, so education has taken its place.’

In the United States, the organisation, Futures for Children has been operating for 40 years. It was formed to encourage Native American students to finish school and to apply for university. The rates were traditionally very low. As Larry writes in his report, the low numbers of Native Americans who pursue higher education ‘can be overwhelming, but Futures for Children believes that one by one they can help change the lives of thousands of American Indian children.’

The organisation in the ACT, Aspire, works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the ACT’s public education system. After his return, Larry worked with the ACT Aspire teachers to get many of his recommendations implemented.

Excerpt from “Inspiring Australians” written by Penny Hanley (2015)

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