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two students in garden
Ciana Cummings and Samara Gibson take a tour through Gumbi Gumbi Gardens during USQ’s Indigenous Connections event.
You could have heard a pin drop as Dr Derek Chong retold his family’s story and spoke of the importance of education to the packed auditorium at USQ’s Indigenous Connections event today (October 10).

“I might be the first Indigenous psychiatrist in Queensland but that was laid down by my Elders before me,” he said at USQ Toowoomba.

“The hardships, the blood, the tears; what they went through enabled me to get an education. It enabled me to know it is possible.

“That is what I want you to take out of this. If I can do it, you can do it. And you can.”

More than 150 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high-school students visited USQ Toowoomba for the one-day event aimed at inspiring and exciting students to the possibilities of university study.

The students from schools across Toowoomba and western Queensland listened to the motivational presentation from Dr Chong and enjoyed a traditional dance performance.

“My great grandfather said ‘Education is key’,” Dr Chong said.

“At the age of 14 he taught himself how to read and write from the bible, as there was no education access for him. At the age of 16, he lied about his age and served in the First World War as a light horseman.

“When he came back, he didn’t talk about these war stories. He talked about how education was the key for our people.”

Indigenous Connections provides an opportunity to interact with USQ students and staff and show that the University is a place where students are supported and able to succeed.

The event included sessions on USQ study opportunities, pathways and hands-on cultural activities as well as stories from current students and Indigenous Elders.

For friends Ciana Cummings (Murgon SHS) and Samara Gibson (Dalby SHS) Indigenous Connections was their first time visiting the University campus.

“I have enjoyed walking around and learning about the University,” Ciana said.

For Samara it had also opened up a world of different study options and careers requiring a university education.

“I am interested in going down a medical path and I have learnt about different courses,” Samara said.

USQ currently offers a range of programs to Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander students through the College for Indigenous Studies, Education and Research (CISER).

For further information about the program visit: