Skip to main content

Marleigh, Give to Change recipient

Studying at university after completing high school was always the plan for Marleigh, a talented young Australian woman of Aboriginal and Afghan descent, whose family hail from the Barkindji people from New South Wales.


However, like many students, her transition to university included many unknowns. Marleigh was unsure which course to apply for - "my goal was to study physiotherapy but when it came to submitting an application, I didn't feel my heart was 100% set on it," coupled with all of the new factors that tertiary study would entail. While considering her options, Marleigh was pleased to discover that Curtin's Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS) offered a bridging program that would assist her to make the leap.

For a semester, Marleigh undertook the Indigenous Tertiary Enabling Course (ITEC), which provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the ability to prepare for university study, in a supportive environment that promotes a strong sense of identity.

Marleigh explains that the course allowed her to "find out how university worked and how different it was to high school," teaching her "where the cheapest cafe on campus was, about scholarships and tutors, and that although I was nervous about being at university, there was always some sort of help available for anything I needed."

It also helped her confirm what course she wanted to study - "secondary education" - and that university was for her before she was locked into any HECS debts. Marleigh also credits the course with helping her socially, explaining that she "made new friends who soon became like family, we had opportunities to travel on camps which lead to closer bonds with my classmates."

Marleigh explains that the course also helped her aim higher," ITEC opened the door to the bigger aspirations I have for life." For her work during the course, Marleigh was awarded the Dean's Outstanding Academic Achievement award, which "confirmed that I could do big things with my life if I stay focussed and keep aspiring for higher things."

Today, it is clear that Marleigh is doing just that. She is currently completing her first year of a Bachelor of Education, as well as mentoring other ITEC students, and working as an Indigenous Support Officer at CAS. Her interest in inspiring others to meet their potential is clear - her plans after graduating are to work overseas, as well as in a remote Aboriginal community. "I would love to be able to take students while they're in school to the nearest big city and show them universities and major sporting grounds. This would be to show that these things exist and that they could potentially be studying or playing in one of those places if they want it bad enough - seeing is believing."