Keisha McEwan graduated from CQUniversity with a Bachelor of Social Work (honours). Picture: Contributed
Keisha McEwan graduated from CQUniversity with a Bachelor of Social Work (honours). Picture: Contributed

‘Defy the odds and become the person you’re supposed to’

PROUD Barkindji woman Keisha McEwan made history last week when she became the first in her family to graduate from university.

The 24-year-old graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) at CQUniversity's first in-person ceremony since COVID-19 began.

"Wearing the cultural sash and accepting my degree was a moment that I'll never forget," Ms McEwan said.

"For me, this was a commitment to reconciliation and a reflection and celebration of the increasing number of Indigenous graduates."

Keisha McEwan, flanked by her family, after she graduated from CQUniversity with a Bachelor of Social Work (honours). Picture: Contributed
Keisha McEwan, flanked by her family, after she graduated from CQUniversity with a Bachelor of Social Work (honours). Picture: Contributed

Ms McEwan's determination to study at university influenced her own sister to enrol for a teaching degree, but the initial journey was clouded with doubt.

"There was always that thought of, 'you're not good enough for university'," Ms McEwan said.

"It was the very last day that enrolments were being accepted and as I clicked submit, I cried; part of me thought 'what have you just done?' and the other part thought 'defy the odds and become the person you're supposed to be'."

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She now hopes to inspire others to do the same.

Keisha McEwan graduated from CQUniversity with a Bachelor of Social Work (honours). Picture: Contributed
Keisha McEwan graduated from CQUniversity with a Bachelor of Social Work (honours). Picture: Contributed

"I hope like my sister, I've inspired others to consider the uni journey," Ms McEwan said.

"Self-improvement is about continuous growth, becoming better than you were yesterday and being valuable to the world.

"It is about building new positive habits and changing one's behaviour and attitude."

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Ms McEwan is now working for Mackay mental wellbeing organisation, Selectability, on their suicide prevention action plan and running the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre's social and emotion resilience program.

"The degree has provided me with the knowledge and skillset to provide advice, support and resources to individuals and families," Ms McEwan said.

"I now have the ability to have a significant impact on people's lives in different but meaningful ways and that is something I will do with great pride and dedication."