Afi Leota has a lot to be proud of. Enrolling at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) through its second-chance program, the 19-year-old became the first in her family to attend university and is now halfway through a bachelor’s degree in business and commerce.
Ms Leota’s decision to stick to her studies could set her up for life, with the 2019 Good Universities Guide revealing that USQ alumni have recorded the highest median graduate salary in Australia.
It also found that 81 per cent of graduates found full-time employment within four months of finishing their course, beating every other university in Queensland.
“When I finished school, I didn’t know I would come to university,” Ms Leota said.
“I had doubts, but now I’m halfway through my university degree and I’m almost getting to the real world where I’m really growing as a person and maturing as a woman, I want to make my family proud.
“I never gave up to be honest and I feel like university has changed my life… I feel so proud of myself for having come this far.”
USQ vice-chancellor Geraldine Mackenzie said two-fifths of her students were “trailblazers” whose parents had not studied beyond Year 12.
USQ also won a five-star rating for “social equity” with the highest rate of domestic students coming from a low socioeconomic or disadvantaged background.
“USQ is inclusive and supportive of all our students, regardless of their background,” Professor Mackenzie said.
“We ensure our programs and practices are equitable and just, including assessable pathways to higher education for those who need help.”
Ms Leota enrolled in university through USQ’s Tertiary Preparation Program, a specialised course for students who did not complete Year 12 or have been away from study for several years.
The students take courses to hone their writing, computing and general study skills and build their confidence for further studies.
This article originally appeared in The Queensland Times – No need to run race to come first