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A first for Macquarie’s Indigenous Education

Page last published: 10 Oct 2013

Sharon Kerr photo by Effy AlexakisA year after its launch, Macquarie University's Master of  Indigenous Education program marks a milestone as Sharon Ann Kerr, one of the first students to enrol in the degree, graduates this year.

In her graduation speech, Sharon sets out a promise to use education to make a difference.

She said, "We will use this education to enrich not only our own lives but the lives of those around us. As graduates of Macquarie University, we will use our new values and abilities to find creative solutions and ensure that the underserved in our community are included."

Sharon currently manages the Macquarie University Accessibility Services, a national service providing support to students with disabilities, where she is involved in undertaking researches and developing  solutions for under-represented students.

"As a non-Indigenous person involved in serving Indigenous students, I realised that I had much to learn in order to serve effectively in my role. I enrolled in the Master of Indigenous Education program to gain knowledge and appreciation of Indigenous history, cultures, languages, ways of knowing and ways of doing."

Indigenous Education: 'Closing the gaps'

The Master of Indigenous Education program is the only postgraduate degree of its kind in Australia. It provides an in-depth understanding of the historical, contemporary and global issues faced by Indigenous Australia, to help in developing effective teaching practices and policies for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

According to Michelle Trudgett, Head of Macquarie's Department of Indigenous Studies, the degree provides teachers with advanced skills to teach Indigenous people in a manner that is culturally appropriate and conducive to their learning. It also provides students with specific knowledge to educate others about Indigenous Australian people, culture and issues.

Michelle says, "The Master of Indigenous Education degree teaches the real history of Indigenous Education. It takes the students on a powerful journey where they can learn about the role that politics and power has had on influencing education in Australia. The contemporary classroom is explored in terms of Indigenous student retention, engagement and success. Such  knowledge is then put into a global context where other First Nation People's experiences with education systems are explored."

"Sharon Kerr has done a terrific job, completing this degree  in three semesters whilst working. She is an extremely passionate person who I feel confident will continue to have a significant impact on our field. In my opinion, the actions of graduates of the Master of Indigenous Education degree will be pivotal to the important plight of 'closing the gaps' in the future."

The online postgraduate degree is designed for those who want to learn more Indigenous education including early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary teachers, Indigenous community workers, and public servants. Graduates of the Master of Indigenous Education program can pursue careers in a variety of areas such as schools, early childhood services, universities, policy and government departments, NGOs and Indigenous organisations.

Sharon plans to enrol in a PhD program and will continue to advocate for equity and justice.

"The course changed my life and made me a much more effective practitioner. I have developed good friends and colleagues who share a heart for equity and a passion for justice. As a result of this course I will always be committed to cultural safety in both the workplace and learning environment."

"If I continue in the Higher Education Sector I would like to explore enrolling in a PhD with Warawara or the School of Education. If not, it is important to me that whatever I do, it is something that has a positive impact on the lives of others."

Congratulations to Sharon Ann Kerr, students of Master of Indigenous Education, and all Macquarie graduates of 2013!

Learn more about Macquarie's  Department of Indigenous Studies (Warawara) and its academic programs.