CQUniversity Education student Nicholas Sailor has had a lot of positive influences from teachers in his life which has led him to pursuing a teaching career and securing the Pearl Duncan Teaching scholarship.
The 26-year-old Torres Strait Islander from Bundaberg was awarded $10,000 as a recipient of the Pearl Duncan Teaching Scholarship.
Several Teach Queensland Scholarships are available, offering up to $20,000 in financial assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students aspiring to be a teacher in a Queensland state school.
Nicholas is already making his dreams a reality as a teacher aide at Kepnock State High School in his home city of Bundaberg, while he studies his Bachelor of Education (Primary) at CQUni.
“(Receiving the) Pearl Duncan scholarship is great. It provides me the opportunity to expand my personal horizons as an emerging teacher,” he said.
“The scholarship has helped with financial support, job security, and helped get the paperwork ready to register as a teacher.”
Nicholas said his plan to become a teacher came well after his own education and work experiences.
“I never thought of becoming a teacher growing up, but I had been working as a teacher aide for four years and thought why can’t I become a teacher?” he said.
“I had so many positive role models in my life who were teachers. I want to be a positive role model who helps the next generation become the best they can be.”
Before he decided to pursue teaching, Nicholas worked as a cook at Sizzler, and was a labourer in a sheet-metal business.
“At school, I only got a QCE and a Certificate IV in Project Management. I faced this issue where I thought I was not doing enough in my life and felt like I had nothing to show for it,” he said.
“One day, I just said to my family that I wanted to look at uni and become a teacher. My family and I had the perception that uni cost a lot of money and I had no Idea how to pay for it. A woman named Wendy told me about the HECS debt and that you don’t pay for anything until you earned a certain amount of money.
“At that exact moment, my options in life opened and becoming a teacher was possible.”
Initially Nicholas enrolled in CQUni’s STEPS program and built his study skills in computers, English, maths, and science. His excellent efforts in STEPS helped him enrol in the degree.
“I am now a term away from graduation and can’t wait,” he said.
“The main challenge has been finding that life balance. Time waits for no man, and when studying, friends, family, work, finances, social events, and loss are just things that happen on top of study.
“You have to be strong to make it through, I work two jobs, studied full-time and dealt with all of life’s drama to get to where I am now. When I graduate, I would like to teach in Bundaberg starting out, however I am willing to move away.”
During his studies Nicholas has embraced numerous opportunities.
In 2017 he co-presented a paper at the Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research with CQUni Lecturer Robert Vanderburg, sparking an interest in Nicholas to potentially undertake a research degree in the future. The same year, he also received the 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Pathways Scholarship.
Nicholas said his primary aim was to be the best teacher he can be.
“I believe students need male role models now more than ever,” he said.
“Students need to build on their gender knowledge. Male teachers, especially in primary schools have a responsibility to model these expectations and maybe break some stigmas that are inherent in boys.”
He encouraged other First Nations/Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are thinking about university study to seriously consider it.
“To my fellow Indigenous people, I would recommend university study – there may be some trials that you face during your degree, but it is a short-term pain that you can get through for long term gain.
“My advice is that you don’t know until you try. When you start reflecting on yourself, some of the achievements you make will surprise you.”