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Culture, connection and encouragement takes Rockhampton mum global

Joseph Guenzler -

Amy Mann's university journey started with a struggle, describing her initial tertiary experience as "failing miserably".

Pursuing nursing and later law after high school, she decided at one point that tertiary education was not her chosen path.

Ms Mann gained a Diploma of National Indigenous Advocacy, with her career transition affording her the opportunity to revisit her academic ambitions.

"I had a career, two children and a husband, and it came to a point where I said, 'I still want a degree, and I'm going to go and get it!'," she said.

Currently in her second year of Central Queensland University's (CQU) Bachelor of Psychological Science, she reflects on her early days on campus as transformative, inspiring a new life goal.

Ms Mann is now on track to achieve this goal, thanks to the support of a New Colombo Plan scholarship.

"It was Orientation Week at the Rockhampton campus, and I walked up to a stall for CQUGlobal Outbound, promoting opportunities for CQU students to study overseas," she said.

"I had a bit of a yarn and said, 'I'd love to do this, but I can't even look at something like that, I'm too old and I've got a family to think about'.

"The Study Abroad Coordinator she said to me, 'Amy, don't ever say can't – there's students with overseas scholarships right now, who have taken their whole families with them!'"

The New Colombo Plan Scholarships, a recognition of academic excellence, community leadership, resilience, and adaptability, have been awarded to Ms Mann and 149 others nationally in 2024, with three recipients at CQU. Additionally Ms Mann was awarded the First Nations Fellowship.

She intends to travel to Japan, where she will pursue a semester of studies at Toyo University, Hakusan, Tokyo, as part of her ambitious plans.

Her upcoming international study builds on her initial overseas experience, which dates back to 2009 when she participated in the Indigenous Youth Leadership program in the remote community of Narango in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.

"It feels like I'm realising my wildest dreams," Amy said.

"I'm so passionate about learning and understanding other cultures, and to share my culture too – and this opportunity means I can also be a role model for my children."

Ms Mann attributes her successful return to university studies to the guidance provided by CQUniversity's Indigenous Student Engagement team.

Post-degree, she aspires to engage in psychology research, specifically exploring the impact of cultural connection on social and emotional wellbeing.

"If you'd asked me ten, even five years ago, whether anything like this would have happened I would've thought it was unattainable," she said.

"Now, I want my family and everyone to realise their capabilities and to say, 'hey, if Amy can do it, I can do it too'."

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