Meet our people

Our graduates make a real difference, growing into leadership roles across our society, from championing Aboriginal rights to improving quality of life and creating an artistic masterpiece.

For example, graduates from our Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion are working with their communities to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health, and showing strong leadership that shapes the future.

Our current students join us through many different pathways, from the Cadigal Alternative Entry Program to mature-age entry, going through TAFE, making use of scholarships and moving from regional and remote areas.

Here are just a few of their inspirational stories, which may help you to make decisions about studying at university.

Emily and Alicia Johnson

Sisters Emily and Alicia Johnson

Sisters Emily and Alicia Johnson

Sisters Emily and Alicia Johnson joined the University community through the Cadigal Alternative Entry Program. Emily has started a Bachelor of Arts degree, following in the footsteps of her big sister Alicia, a second-year Arts student.

They're not the first in their family to study here. Their mother Priscilla graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Aboriginal Health and Community Development) in 2008.

“Mum was over the moon when she found out I got into Sydney Uni because she knew I would be with Alicia at the university she studied at,” says Emily. “The Cadigal Program not only helped me get an offer but gave me a head start in academic skills,” she adds. “It really got me familiar with the University community before my studies began."

Read more about the sisters' story

Adam Ridgeway

Adam Ridgeway (BVA 2008) studied Visual Arts here, graduating with honours, and is a ceramicist based in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. He was supported during his studies under the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme, and says tutoring helps “people who want to achieve and perform at a higher level”. In 2009 he designed the 'Sea of Hands' installation for Reconciliation Week at the University.

Dr Reuben Bolt

Dr Reuben Bolt Graduation

Dr Reuben Bolt graduated with a PhD

Dr Reuben Bolt was the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student to graduate with a doctorate degree from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

He says the most enjoyable part of his research was “studying a topic that I was very passionate about. This provided me with the motivation and determination to succeed.

“Another motivation was knowing that the completion of this study would be a very significant achievement for my family, and for Aboriginal people in general."

Read more about Reuben’s story

Noel Pearson

Noel Pearson (BA 1987, LLB 1993) completed a history and a law degree at the University, a perfect study path for a man who would go on to be one of the foremost activists for Aboriginal Australian rights, especially land rights. He was heavily involved in negotiations over the Native Title Act 1993, one of the most important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander milestones in Australia’s history.

Jacinda Matthews

Jacinda Matthews graduating

Jacinda Matthews at her graduation ceremony

Jacinda Matthews recently graduated with a Bachelor of Oral Health.
“I am the first person from both sides of my family to attend university and I know they are extremely proud of my achievements.”

Dr Charles Perkins AO

Dr Charles Perkins AO (BA 1965) was the first Aboriginal man to graduate from an Australian university, completing a Bachelor of Arts here in 1965. It was a time of “very exciting people with great intellect at the university”, he said. His passion and tenacity led to his participation in the Freedom Ride, a national protest against racial discrimination in Australia.