Aspire to success was the message to about 36 high school students from the Nirimba education community at Quakers Hill who took part in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student conference.
The conference aimed to show students the many pathways of higher education and included six workshops led by presenters from the Defence Force, the Education Department, Health NSW, the police, UWS and TAFE.
During the lunch break Darug elder Uncle Greg Simms showed how to carve a traditional shield.
Year 12 Terra Sancta College student Brandon Huges, signalled the end of each workshop with the didgeridoo he taught himself to play nine years ago.
"I'm from the Ngemba Wailwan tribe in northern NSW and the didgeridoo originated in the Northern Territory, so I just had a go and I taught myself," he said.
"I think Pathways to University [was the most useful workshop] because it provides a more in-depth explanation of how to get into uni. I want to go and do a bachelor of arts."
The conference was planned by the Nirimba Education Precinct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Committee.
Chair of the working group Robert Feeney, who teaches at Terra Sancta College, said keynote speaker Kyle James was an example of achieving success an alternate way.
His dream of a football career fell flat when he blew out both knees within 12 months of beginning to play at a professional level and found he needed an alternative.
‘‘That’s the underlying focus — that if they aspire to success in education it is achievable for them,’’ he said.
‘‘Kyle came here with an ATAR less than 50 for his HSC and he’s now a university student doing physiotherapy employed at a prominent rugby league club.
‘‘The different approaches are good... so that this kids in years 9, 10 and 11 know that the future is ahead of them and all they have to do is buckle down and do some work.’’