The University of Newcastle, Australia

Reflections on a week spent at CEEHE

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Professor Jacqueline Stevenson from Sheffield Hallam University, UK, reflects on her recent visit to the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education.

Professor Jacqueline Stevenson

I have known and worked with Professor Penny-Jane Burke for several years now and I have listened (with more than a little envy) to her accounts of how stimulating and exciting she has found her time at CEEHE since taking up her directorship.

I have also heard from Professor Sue Clegg about how wonderful she found her time spent at CEEHE earlier this year, and so I was confident that I was in for an equally wonderful visit. However my week surpassed even my greatest expectations and I am leaving Australia buzzing with thoughts on how I can continue to grow and develop the connections I have made.

Giving the Brian Smith lecture was clearly a highlight of my visit and I was delighted by the invitation to do so. I also hugely enjoyed giving my workshop on 'Mattering' and I benefitted from each and every meeting that I had with CEEHE staff and research students - I thank you for the warm, delightful, thoughtful and informative conversations that we had.

However, the morning I spent with students from the Journeys to Success program at Callaghan College Waratah Campus was, I have to say, the highlight of my week.

My visit started with a wonderfully warm doorstep welcome by two of the students and the Principal of the College. We then sat in a circle and after I had introduced myself and told them a little about my research the students described the countries they had come from and what their hopes were for their futures - to be doctors, nurses, teachers, translators, footballers, military, and shop workers among other careers.

The students then worked individually or in groups to map out their 'road maps' to success, drawing or noting down the steps they needed to take, the skills they might need to develop, and who they might need to involve to help them get there. The place of higher and further education figured pretty highly in their aspirations and it was energizing, and not a little humbling, to feel and hear their hopes, desires and commitments.

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the students so thank you Sheena Roberts and Matt Lumb for arranging my visit. Thank you also to the College for hosting me and to the Newstep students for playing their part in the session.

Most of all, of course, thank you to the wonderful Journeys to Success students for their enthusiasm and wonderful high spirits, and for participating so fully in the session. I hope you achieve your goals.

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