Program helps students prepare for uni life

Students at Uni-Key
Uni-Key participants Sina Ieremia (left) and Tasha Heri (third left) with Student Equity Programs Officers Sanesie Dukuly and Emily Edwards.

For first-year Bachelor of Human Services student Sina Ieremia, the decision to embark on university study was something not to be taken lightly.

“I’m the first in my family to go to university,’’ she explains.

“I’m doing Uni-Key because I want to meet new people, make friends and be prepared for university life.”

Sina is one of hundreds of Griffith University commencing students participating in the program which provides a structured transition to university for students who may not have traditionally accessed higher education.

It includes pre-orientation activities and weekly peer-mentoring sessions to commencing undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds.

Student Equity Services Manager Judy Hartley said the Uni-Key Program had been a core element in the University’s suite of student and community-focussed equity programs for more than 18 years.

“A highly valued and effective feature of the program is the involvement of Griffith students as peer mentors.

“Most of these students have also participated in Griffith’s equity programs (which include Uni-Reach and the Disability Service), and have experienced first-hand the challenging circumstances that can impact on a person’s confidence and self-esteem as well as their sense of belonging at university and their capacity to manage in an unfamiliar environment.”

Student Equity Programs Officer Sanesie Dukuly understands how daunting university study can seem to first-time students.

He spent 14 years in a refugee camp in Guinea after leaving Liberia and before moving to Australia. In 2011 he began a Bachelor of Human Services at Griffith’s Logan campus and was a mentee in the Uni-Key program. Before long, he became a mentor to new students.

Then after graduating in 2013 he moved to his current project role as a Student Equity Programs Officer within Student Services.

“I say I have the dream job!’’ he said.

“Mentors offer that shared experience and can relate to new students’ experience. From being a mentee to mentor and now program coordinator, I see daily how previously shy students gain confidence and skills and this inspires me.”