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Success on the road to a career in oral health


18 April 2012

Jacinda Matthews (right) receiving her testamur from University of Sydney Chancellor Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir.
Jacinda Matthews (right) receiving her testamur from University of Sydney Chancellor Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir.

As a mature-age student with no Higher School Certificate (HSC), Jacinda Matthews had been concerned before starting her uni studies in oral health about whether she would be able to keep up with other students who had come straight from high school. On 16 March 2012, her mother sat in the University of Sydney's historic Great Hall, beaming with pride as Jacinda received her degree.

An Aboriginal woman of the Wiradjuri nation, 32-year-old Jacinda grew up in Sydney's inner-west, and first discovered her passion for working in oral health when she got a job in a dental surgery in Darlinghurst. Her experience there convinced her to decide to apply to the University of Sydney.

"I am the first person from both sides of my family to attend university and I know they are extremely proud of my achievements," says Jacinda.

With no HSC, she had to sit a University Preparation Course (UPC), gaining excellent results that led to an offer in Sydney's Bachelor of Oral Health program. The Cadigal Alternative Entry Program supported her right from the start of the application process through to the completion of her degree, including by providing information about the University's Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme, scholarships, cadetships and financial assistance.

Jacinda says while her course was "extremely demanding", her time at the University provided "a sense of my abilities and possibilities that I never envisioned before."

"The best I can do for my family is through personal example," she says. "Anything is possible if you are prepared to work hard for it. I now have the confidence to go into the world, knowing that I am going to be a great oral health therapist."


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Contact: David Sams, Student Communications Manager, 02 9351 3703, david.sams@sydney.edu.au