My Good Vibes Snapshot: Sha-lane Gibson
For Sha-lane Gibson, leaving her community to go to a boarding school where she was the only Indigenous student, was a tough transition. Over time, she found her feet and came to appreciate how important education is. Sha-lane, now 19, is determined to make a difference by encouraging young Indigenous people to continue with their education and to recognise all they’re capable of:
“A while ago I saw an ad for the GenerationOne ‘CEO for a Day’ program, so I put an application in. Ultimately I want to own my own business. I was keen to see first hand what being part of a business is actually like and to learn how it all works. I got a call a month later saying I was successful. There were 200 or 300 applications and sixteen of us got chosen. It felt like a big achievement. I flew down to Canberra and went to the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre. I got to shadow the CEO for a day. It was great to dip my foot into the waters and see what it was all about. It’s a path I want to follow.
I’m originally from Hopevale in Far North Queensland-that’s the Indigenous community I grew up in. Most of my family are from there. I can really see the changes between the importance placed on education when I was growing up and the importance of education now. Our elders and leaders fought very hard because they didn’t have the opportunities we have now. They fought hard so that we would have those opportunities and I guess I want to reinforce that. One of my dreams is to do something about education and basic things such as numeracy and literacy in communities like mine. I’m very motivated to help change things.
Now days, everything you do is linked back to education. It’s key to finding a job and having social purpose and economic purpose. At the moment it’s such a small percentage of Indigenous people who engage in further education and studies.
I went to boarding school from 8 to Year 12. It was so difficult being the only Indigenous student there. I was completely lost for the first few years. I didn’t really want to leave home. My biggest concerns were just fitting in and making friends. It was hard being different and being away from my community. I just tried my best to do what I needed to do. By Year 9, I started making some more friends and getting more into the leadership and extra curricular activities. It felt like home by the end of Year 12. I wasn’t really into learning so much until I got into my final year and I started noticing that I was a role model to people around me. A few Indigenous girls came into Year 8. I felt I had to show them what needed to be done… I wanted to support them.
All of my family, my aunties and uncles have been to boarding school. My family members, who are older than me, mostly pursued education. My younger family in the community, don’t really see the importance. Most of the younger ones don’t expect to go to Uni or further their education… there’s no real expectation there. I see a gap there and I want to fix it. One of the cycles I want to change is about what people are encouraged to do…it’s about showing people they’re capable of succeeding. Personal motivation is a big thing for me. People need to believe they can do things- they need to have role models who are striving to move forward. My mum is a big role model for me. She had me at a young age and went to Uni when I was a young kid. I grew up seeing her working so hard to further her education and that’s something that motivated me.
I didn’t really think I could achieve the stuff I did until I started doing it and I realised “I can”. I’m not that smart. I didn’t come out of school being the smartest person, but I tried really hard. For me that’s what it comes down to, giving everything a go and going from there. I didn’t really put in much effort in the early years of high school. In Grade 12 I became focussed on getting myself over the line, because that’s what I wanted to do. What really pushed me, was getting into University.
For me, the important thing is knowing what you want to do and being determined to do it. I think about what I want to achieve for the future. When I’m older I want to have stability, I want to be able to look after myself and be independent. I want my kids and my community to experience new opportunities…”
Thanks so much for talking to us Sha-lane. The value you place on education and your drive to make a difference, are inspiring. We look forward to seeing where the future takes you – teenconfidential
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