A Charles Darwin University staff member and Indigenous mother of two thinks she was the “proudest student ever” to don a gown and mortar board and receive her under-graduate degree at the University’s mid-year graduation ceremony.
Yvette Carolin was the first in her family to start undergraduate studies and she now holds a CDU Bachelor of Commerce, having also picked up four scholarships to help her along the way.
“I feel really proud as an Indigenous person who grew up in Darwin, to have graduated from our own university in the Northern Territory,” Ms Carolin said.
“That’s a significant thing, to show that the Territory has a good education system,” she said.
Ms Carolin is Yanyuwa on her father’s side and Jawoyn and Torres Strait islander on her mother’s side and a passionate advocate for Indigenous people’s autonomous economic future.
She works within the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Indigenous Leadership at CDU and wants to help Indigenous people living in remote communities to develop an economic base.
“I hope to contribute to research and development around economic frameworks that have a social and cultural imperative, to balance the capitalism,” she said.
“[My] people want to keep their culture and they need an income in order to do that,” she said.
After completing primary school at Ludmilla and secondary at Darwin High, Ms Carolin was “lucky enough to meet some people who helped me get a traineeship in another city”, she said.
“I went to Canberra and started with the Federal Government in the Social Security department, (now Centrelink) and part of my training was to write a departmental newsletter, we called Jumbana. I think it is still going,” she said, with a smile.
Ms Carolin transferred back to the NT and was placed in the Nhulunbuy office.
There she worked in the Housing and Enterprises section, which she said allowed her to “help community people with their stores, market gardens and sewing centres”.
“It’s where I learned a lot about my culture,” she said.
From there, Ms Carolin returned to Darwin and undertook a Field Office Certificate in Aboriginal Services at the then Darwin Institute of Technology.
“It was awesome and that is what got me to continue on my study pathway,” she said.
Ms Carolin said CDU has the framework, structures and support systems to assist Indigenous students in their learning journeys.
“As a person growing up in Darwin, CDU is like an extended family, set up to help us. It’s advantageous for local people to study at CDU, Indigenous or not,” she said.
With Ms Carolin’s Bachelor degree in hand, she is about to embark on postgraduate studies, but also hopes to provide other Indigenous students with the “academic cultural” mentoring she received.
“I’m really looking forward to having a long relationship with the University. I’m not sure in what capacity, but I really want to continue with Charles Darwin University,” Ms Carolin said.