Soaring to great new heights
Nickeisha is a proud Gumea/Dhurawal woman from Yuin nation
Nickeisha hasn’t always been in a good place. At a very young age she dropped out of school, unable to cope with the racism and hardships she was enduring on a daily basis. She was adamant she would never return to school again.
Two years after dropping out, thanks to the encouragement and support of her sister, Nickeisha once again found herself in the classroom, this time repeating Year 10 at Hymba Yumba. Those first few months were difficult to Nickeisha as she adjusted back into schooling life.
Nickeisha admits she wasn’t sociable in those early days, she would often hide away at lunchtimes, it was difficult for her to trust in people, especially teachers. She didn’t believe in herself or her ability to succeed.
But not long after she started, a breakthrough happened. Thanks to the ongoing support and encouragement from her teachers, Nickeisha was able to start believing in her herself, for the very first time, just like they did.
“A lot of the teachers saved me. Not trusting teachers was a big barrier for me, but teachers like Ms Monique really pushed me and have had a lasting impact on me,” Nickeisha said.
Fast forward to today and Nickeisha is a strong, confident, Indigenous woman with the world at her feet. She is currently studying her first year of Criminology at USQ and is so grateful for the opportunities Hymba Yumba provided for her.
When asked what she would say to a prospective student, she replied, “you’re not going to get this opportunity anywhere else especially as an Indigenous person. You’re not going to find a school that’s so engaged in culture and its students. The school is great for getting where you want to be…education is vital; it is one of the most important things the world has to offer and not everyone gets the opportunity. Just do it.”
When big dreams are realised
Jaiden’s mob are the Murramarang people from Ulladulla.
Jaiden had been bullied throughout his Primary school years and his confidence and motivation for continuing his education was at an all-time low. He knew he needed a change, so in Year 8, together with his family, Jaiden made the bold decision to change schools and enrol at Hymba Yumba.
Like many students who begin their journey at Hymba Yumba, Jaiden fell in love with the school almost immediately.
“I remember feeling nervous on my first day, but the teachers were so kind and welcoming and put me at ease straight away,” said Jaiden.
He even met his best friend on the very first day after he asked Jaiden if he could borrow a pencil.
“Hymba Yumba is very hard to describe by regular school terms just because of how unique and special it is. The teachers are amazing and so are the kids. It is one big family where your voice actually matters and if you need someone to hear you, people listen,” said Jaiden.
Throughout Jaiden’s schooling years at Hymba he embraced every opportunity thrown at him and before long he was a A+ student with big dreams. Jaiden believes that education is incredibly important to set you up for a life of success, contentment and happiness. Jaiden learned the benefits of taking advantage of the opportunities provided through the school in a range of camps, including STEM camps, courses and extra-curricular activities. “It’s important to go to special events, extra excursions, and enrol in a TAFE course or workshop.”
“Thanks to my years at Hymba Yumba, I’ve learned how to be a leader, how to cooperate well with others, how to remain persistent and determined even under pressure. It’s a one-way train ticket to the future and a life that you desire,” said Jaiden
Continuing the journey
Shaylana is a proud Wakka Wakka, Kullilli, Dunghutti and Yuin woman
Shaylana started her educational journey with Hymba Yumba in 2019 in the last term of Year 10. Whilst she had been performing adequately at her previous schools, she simply blossomed at Hymba Yumba and finally felt as though she belonged.
“I felt comfortable at Hymba Yumba. It’s easy to get along with people you click with. Black kids getting along with black kids,” Shaylana said.
As a proud Indigenous woman, Shaylana loved having culture woven through school life, via the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, just like her, in almost every assignment and subject she completed.
“Yumba Yumba understands our struggles as a culture and recognises that we are important. In my previous school if something indigenous came up, everyone would turn and look at me, but I didn’t know much because I wasn’t around my mob. When I came here, I learned so much,” Shaylana says.
A recent graduate of Hymba Yumba, Shaylana’s future looks bright as she continues her educational journey at ACU studying midwifery.
Initially she had no idea what she wanted to do, but one day at school she came across a brochure for an Indigenous ‘Step Up’ course. The ‘Step Up’ course sparked the idea for midwifery, and the success she experienced doing the course, became her personal stepping-stone into the beginning of her career.
“I would love to be an Indigenous midwife, to be there for other Indigenous women, it is my dream,” said Shaylana.
Shaylana hopes that her story will encourage others to work hard and make positive choices for themselves, “education is very important, especially at this school, there are so many opportunities and pathways available to anyone that wants to take up the challenge.”
Finding herself through education
Ziphoria is a Kuku Yalanji, Gubbi Gubbi, Gurang Gurang, South Sea and Torres Strait Islander woman
After earning a scholarship to attend an elite girls school for a number of years, Ziphoria never felt as though she truly fitted in.
She felt as though something was missing as though she had lost herself.
Ziphoria’s siblings were already attending Hymba Yumba, and she could see how happy, settled and motivated they were, and she wanted her school life to be the same. So, she decided to enrol at Hymba Yumba as well.
When she arrived at Hymba Yumba she describes the experience as “settling inside of her skin”.
“As soon as I stepped through the door into Hymba Yumba, it was like, here I am. It was like going from a big, bulky city into the forest. I thought, this is a part of my journey now. It starts here,” Ziphoria said.
After only a few short months at her new school, Ziphoria’s passion to learn and confidence in herself and her culture returned with vigour.
“The faces surrounding me were black and the teachers were so encouraging and supportive and didn’t put their cultural bias on me. Arriving at Hymba Yumba was a culture shock, because had come from a come from a school that had white walls where no one talked about Indigenous issues. At Hymba Yumba, I saw myself in everyone else, and this is why representation is important,” Ziphoria said.
Today, Ziphoria is studying for a double degree in Business and Justice at Queensland University of Technology, majoring in Finance and Criminology, Policing and Policies. She embarked on a diploma in Business while at Hymba Yumba which provided a natural progression into the Bachelor program once she graduated.
Ziphoria speaks passionately about her beliefs around education, “education is especially essential for Indigenous people, because when people are fighting for the issues that concern us, having a background of education makes it more likely that other people will listen…communication is important.”