Ammbigai secures spot at university in Sydney

Ammbigai secures spot at university in Sydney

Thursday 14 December

Year 11 student Brodhi Woods watches on as Ammbigai Muir raises the Aboriginal flag at the front of St Hilda's

Recent Year 12 graduate Ammbigai Muir gave up attending her valedictory dinner, graduation ceremony and leavers in November to undertake the Pre Social Work Program at the University of NSW.

Showing dedication to future tertiary studies, the former boarder and Nickel West Scholarship holder made the call to miss out on the end of year events to increase her chances of being offered a place at the Sydney-based university. 

And her decision paid off.

“I was a bit sad to miss out on graduation and leavers, but that is only short term,” she said.

Ammbigai was offered a place at UNSW to study Bachelor of Arts majoring in indigenous studies, after completing the three-week program.
“I went to UNSW in July and did the Winter School which is how I got accepted into the Pre Social Work Program,” she said.

“That was my first interstate trip on my own and it was scary, but a good experience.

“Last year I went on a Government work experience trip to Canberra with St Hilda’s, which helped me build confidence.

“My initial goal was to step out of my comfort zone and see what leadership skills I have. After doing that, it gave me the confidence to apply for UNSW.” 

The Pre Social Work program comprised intensive lectures and tutorials at UNSW, which Ammbigai said she enjoyed thoroughly.

“It gives you a sense of what uni is going to be like,” she said.

“The classes are generally 9 until 5, and one of the major components is motivation to show up to class. We had to choose a faculty and I chose indigenous studies, as I am passionate about learning about other tribes, not just my own.”

Born in the Goldfields town of Leonora as a member of the Wongi tribe, Ammbigai said connecting with the land was important for her.

“Social work has a component of indigenous studies,” she said.

“Ideally would like to work in indigenous rights – fighting for land and equality, because I feel this is something my generation doesn’t get involved in enough. It would be hard being away from my family and my country, but the indigenous studies program is really supportive.”

Head of Boarding Leonie Jongenelis said she was proud of Ammbigai’s dedication.
“This will be the third Australia-wide program she has been selected for, so I am thrilled for her,” she said.

“She has also been offered a place in the Indigenous Pre-Medicine and Health Sciences Enabling Course at Curtin University. On top of that, Ammbigai also won the Reconciliation WA Writing competition earlier this year.”

Ammbigai was instrumental in arranging for the Aboriginal flag to become a permanent fixture outside St Hilda’s earlier this year, and said there needed to be more awareness about indigenous culture in schools.

“Even when they do teach it (in schools), it is only touched on a little,” she said.

“Having knowledge of inter generational post-colonial trauma is a big part of closing the gap.”