Jamelia Barnes is set to be one of the youngest university graduates in the country after the 15-year-old was offered a place at the University of New England (UNE).
To make the achievement all the sweeter, the Bundaberg Region student will be a third generation UNE graduate after her mum and grandfather both gained their teaching degrees at the same university.
Her grandmother was also once an employee of UNE.
The passionate English student has already begun her Bachelor of Media and Communications and is still pinching herself in disbelief that she has been given this exciting opportunity.
“I absolutely love school,” Jamelia said with enthusiasm.
“I’ve always been extremely motivated to study in my own free time, especially in English, ever since I was little.”
The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic left Jamelia looking for ways to fill her spare time.
She said she was aware that a pathway to university was available for people with a TAFE qualification.
“I was looking into lots of different things and I was looking into business as well,” Jamelia said.
“I just thought that I would start with a Certificate IV in business with a focus on customer service.
“I also saw that as a pathway into maybe getting into uni.”
While also continuing her Year 9 studies, Jamelia completed the 12-month course in under four months while also completing a Griffith University English course.
These achievements had the desired effect when Jamelia got word that she had been accepted to UNE.
“With my age I didn’t think it was actually going to happen so that was awesome.
“I put in an application and four days later I had my letter of offer.
“It was actually a quite funny story how I found out.
“I was almost asleep … and my Fitbit started buzzing and I thought my mum was calling me and I looked at my watch and it said letter of offer.
“I quickly got up … it was the congratulations email from UNE.
“I ran in to mum and woke her up and said mum I got in, I got in!
“We didn’t sleep much that night,” she laughed.
Jamelia said she had researched young university graduates and believed there was another Australian student who had graduated at age 17, the same age she hopes to be when she completes her degree.
“I’m so excited.
“Lots of my friends think it’s pretty crazy because I will be graduating my bachelor degree before people my age graduate high school.”
With mum Jenny Barnes a qualified teacher, Jamelia is home schooled and said she has always loved to study.
She said a Bachelor of Media and Communications would help her to find a job in an industry which ticked a lot of boxes.
“It stems from my passion in English.
“I love performing, I love singing and speeches, I’ve done that ever since I was little as well.
“I really wanted to find something that was a crossover between as many passions as I could combine into one job.
“This is a combination of speaking to people and all the writing which I really love as well.”
Majoring in media, Jamelia started her degree this week.