Josh Cubillo | Alumni | Master of Education

After completing the research pathway of the Master of Education, Josh is now embarking on a PhD with the Faculty of Education. On completing his PhD he hopes to secure a role that helps to improve the educational outcomes of Indigenous students. Josh shares, "the education afforded to me at the Faculty of Education has empowered me to disrupt curriculum that has worked to silence Indigenous knowledges."

Q: Can you please briefly outline your life prior to studying this program?

I was born and raised on my ancestral lands of Darwin before making the move to Adelaide to begin my teacher training at the University of South Australia.

Q: Do you mind sharing your Indigenous heritage with us?

The Larrakia and Wadjigan people are neighbouring clans of the Darwin and outer western region of Darwin. We are commonly known as the saltwater people because our daily lives are heavily influenced by activities involving the sea. The Larrakia people are made up of 8 major family groups and claim the dangalaba (crocodile) as their totem.

Q: Why did you choose to study your program?

I initially headed down the teaching path because I had really good teachers throughout my schooling who wanted to see me do well. I thought if I could emulate the same characteristics and belief my teachers had in me, I would be able to help Indigenous students reach their full potential. As well as being a current employee of University of Melbourne, my boss was the one to give me the nudge and support I needed to enrol into a PhD. I chose the University of Melbourne because it is my current workplace and I know the people and campus very well.

Q: Do you mind sharing which Scholarship you were awarded?

I was fortunate enough to receive the Jack Keating Fund Scholarship in the second year of my PhD. Being a recipient of the scholarship meant I was able to continue my studies despite the COVID-19 pandemic. I was able to use the support of the scholarship to coordinate initiatives with my research participants and purchase software that would assist in data collection. The scholarship also provided the flexibility needed to alter my working arrangements so that I could put the necessary time and energy into my research.

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying for your scholarship?

As an Indigenous person, I would encourage you to apply for scholarships to help you on your academic journeys. In my case, the Jack Keating Fund Scholarship has eased the financial strain of managing a reduced workload, fulltime study and family commitments. We need Indigenous students to keep taking up these opportunities to show there is still a need for the financial assistance as we endeavour to take up tertiary studies and improve the socio-economic status of Indigenous people in Australia. The Jack Keating Fund Scholarship is important because it supports research that has the potential to affect policy. In the case of Indigenous Education in Australia, stronger Indigenous education policy is needed to improve the way Indigenous knowledges is taught and the way we support our Indigenous students navigating a Eurocentric education system.

Q: Are you enjoying studying at the Faculty of Education? If so, what do you like about it?

One of the best elements of undertaking Higher Degree Research at the University is being surrounded and supported by Indigenous academics and allies who are concerned with improving the education system. I have found the research process to be really addictive, particularly because I have found a topic I am passionate about and will hopefully sustain me for the three years. As a research student, I also enjoy the independent responsibility of getting the research done and meeting deadlines.

Q: What’s the most valuable/rewarding aspect of your program?

I think the most valuable aspect of the program was learning how to cast a critical lens over everyday occurrences, structures and events. Learning to be critical and applying the appropriate theory gave me the words and explanations I needed to describe what I have always felt about education in Australia. I feel like the education afforded to me at the Faculty has empowered me to disrupt curriculum that has worked to silence Indigenous knowledges.

Q: How do you hope your course will help your career progression?

I think having a PhD will allow me to pursue an academic path or be in a position to influence education policy. A PhD will also compliment the professional skills I have which will allow me the flexibility to work in diverse environments.

Q:  What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?

I hope to complete my PhD in a timely manner and fill a position that helps to improve the educational outcomes of Indigenous students.

Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting your course?

Be prepared to read and commit 100 percent. There is much more freedom and independence in research so make sure you select a topic that you’re passionate about and will drive you for the duration of your course.

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