Compass Trip to Broken Hill
Women’s College and St. Paul’s College Outback Road Trip
Five students from The Women’s College and St Paul’s College joined the Sydney University Social Inclusion unit, Compass, out in Broken Hill for a week of learning and university preparation.
Students from Broken Hill High School and Willyama High School in Years 10, 11 and 12 participated in a variety of HSC help sessions and university preparation activities, such as writing scholarship applications, personal statements and learning about university and college pathways. HSC help sessions included business studies, physics, English and arts with Sydney University lecturers from those departments facilitating the courses. The College Ambassadors assisted with all of the sessions and were particularly helpful in sharing their experiences of university to inspire the students. In a focus group to assess the overall effectiveness of the week it was noted that the best part of the week for the students was having the current university students there to ask them questions and to hear their stories; this sentiment echoed across comments made by teachers, students and the university employees.
Sophie Partridge from the Social Inclusion office coordinated the week-long program, “we know there can be a lot of additional challenges for students from a regional area in going on to university study. During this week, we hope to help students to work through some of those challenges. All of the staff and students involved with the week have given up their time as they are passionate about supporting students in regional areas.”
Alisha King and Alistair Kitchen led the College Ambassador team to Broken Hill, a 13 hour car trip and a 1,400km journey through vast open plans. The team commented on seeing emus and camels among their road trip highlights. They also made time to visit Bell’s famous milk bar and the Living Desert Sculptures on their travels in Broken Hill, but the most rewarding part of the trip for them was working with the high school students and helping them to gain the knowledge they need to potentially attend university.
“They just need some encouragement, a lot of them commented on not being good enough to get into university but then they would continue on to tell us their amazing life stories that would get them into university in a heartbeat and probably with a few scholarships too.” Alisha commented.
Alistair Kitchen remarked that the whole experience has cemented the importance of education and shown him what being a student in an isolated region is like. He may just continue down the road to being a teacher after this experience.
The group were also interviewed on the local radio station about their experiences of moving away from home to university. “It’s not just about the degree you get at the end, university is an experience with so many amazing opportunities and so many incredible people to meet, it’s a melting pot of ideas and conversations.” Alisha told ABC Radio 999 Broken Hill.
The College Ambassadors also teamed up with representatives from the Macquarie University to host a Community Tertiary Expo where they spoke to students and parents about moving away from home and the different kinds of support for university students, especially the support available for college residents. The Expo was a great success with people in the community commenting that they felt more relaxed now knowing a bit more about university pathways and scholarships.
Though not the purpose of attending the Broken Hill Learning Week, the College Ambassadors have received a few serious expressions of interest for living at college and they will endeavour to support these students to access the residential college community at Sydney university.
The team finished up the trip with the long road trip back to college feeling confident that they were able to inspire students to aim for university, and even the University of Sydney.
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