Open Days opening the doors to study
Nathan West never planned to go to university, until he attended an Open Day at the University of Newcastle. He decided to make tertiary study part of his future and has just been awarded the prestigious Roberta Sykes Scholarship to study at Oxford or Cambridge.
As a high-school student, Nathan West never planned to go to university. The self-described 'mediocre student' didn't even think tertiary study would be within his reach. "I vividly recall the personal feeling that a tertiary education was not something which would be within my reach, not particularly due to a lack of academic performance or drive, but more based around a sense of misplaced entitlement and bewilderment."
In Year 12, Nathan attended an Open Day at the University of Newcastle and decided to make tertiary study part of his future. An opportunity to take part in the ATSI Entry Program at the University of Newcastle led to Nathan studying a Bachelor of Construction Management (Building) and graduating with First Class Honours.
After working for two years in the construction field, Nathan was keen to pursue other opportunities. He was offered a voluntary position to live in Arnhem Land, primarily to mentor a number of Indigenous youth who were completing a Certificate in Construction.
Mentoring in Arnhem Land proved to be a life-changing event and one of the best decisions of his life. "I experienced first-hand the consequences that can occur when two inherently different cultures collide." The experience has been a key catalyst for Nathan's study goals and his desire to uphold the cultural values of Indigenous Australians.
Winning the Roberta Sykes Scholarship means that Nathan will be able to participate in research at Oxford or Cambridge and explore an anthropological avenue regarding the interactions between Western and Indigenous cultural engagements.
"Undertaking research of this vein with the support of a Roberta Sykes Scholarship will enable me to influence a range of benefits for Indigenous Australia, on both a micro and macro level."