First Darumbal doctorate sheds light on supporting students
MELINDA Mann credits her large, loving family with giving her the support to finish nearly six years of study toward her doctorate while holding down a full-time job and raising two children.
She was the first Darumbal person to graduate with a PhD from CQUniversity.
"I've got my parents, two brothers and a sister live just down the road from each other in North Rockhampton,” she said.
"I couldn't have finished both my Masters and my PhD without them taking my kids on the weekends and understanding why I couldn't go on family fishing trips with them.
"They never pressured me; rather, they encouraged me and looked forward to spending time together after I finished.”
Mrs Mann, who heads the University's student wellbeing service, conducted an "indigenised narratology” into how young people look back on their school years.
She spoke with Darumbal people identified by elders as community leaders and asked who inspired and motivated them.
"A lot of research is data-driven, with numbers and percentages and statistics. Storytelling is a lot more powerful and especially appropriate when working with Indigenous people,” she said.
Her research revealed ways in which young people not only bounced back from negative experiences but actively stood up against stereotypes and racism.
And it reinforced how funding for Indigenous education needed to employ permanent staff to give school students more reliable support.
"It's not about more funding; it's about redirecting it,” she said.
Her work forced her to reflect on where own teenage children, see themselves reflected in school curriculum and the community.
"My kids have only known me studying; it's a process the whole family has gone through together,” she said.
"I hope I've shown them that when you start something, you have to finish it.
"They haven't just been fans on the sideline but active supporters. I hope they'll do that for each other when their time comes.”