Rikki Bruce graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering* from CDU in May 2018. She was nominated by her lecturers as a valedictorian for her outstanding personal achievements and academic record. Here's her full graduation speech, where she shares her determination to create a better future for her family.
* This course has been replaced by the Bachelor of Engineering Science.
Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, fellow graduates; I would like to acknowledge the custodians of the country we meet on today: the Larrakia people. I would like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. It is an honour to have been given the opportunity to address all of you present today.
My name is Rikki, and today we are here to celebrate with our loved ones our admirable qualifications earned through our shared struggle throughout endless studying, challenging exams and sleepless nights.
My personal story began in 2012
My personal story began in 2012. Around this time, I felt that there was something empty bouncing around, unfulfilled with dead-end jobs. It was only after having my beautiful baby boy, Elijah, that I realised he deserved to have a better future. I deserved a better life.
This led to me enrolling into CDU's free Tertiary Enabling Program later that year, which involved working and studying harder than I’d ever done in my life. Despite these efforts, I was told that I could never do engineering because I didn’t have the maths skills. Rather than let this dampen my spirits, it motivated me to work even harder.
I walked away with an important lesson: you should never, ever, let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish something. Standing here in front of you all, having followed this pathway to graduate with a Mechanical Engineering degree, I can safely say that the people who doubted me were wrong.
I’m thankful to have had so many great people from CDU to guide me along the way. I’ve been lucky enough to receive financial support through scholarships from this institution, allowing me to secure several placements where I gained practical experience. I also served as a CDU Student Ambassador and shared my learning journey with many high school students considering university. These skills improved my confidence as I prepared for work in the real world, and in the end, they've helped me secure my dream job working with INPEX.
Success is not a solo effort
Success is not a solo effort. I’m sure every graduate has people who have helped along the way, whether keeping you emotionally happy, or helping with study at 3am the day before an exam. These people may be friends, family or lecturers. I would like to take a moment to thank each person who helped me and a big thank you to my dad and my son for always being my biggest supporters. I’d also like to thank the staff at the Office of Indigenous Student Support for helping on my journey.
During my years at CDU, the support and insights of the staff and students here has made each step easier, and I’ll truly miss being able to come in, catch up, and complain how hard engineering is.
However, all things must come to an end, and now we face our next big step in life; our next chapter. I hope that if there’s anything CDU has taught us, it’s that we all have the right tools to complete the challenges before us, and I hope that the future remains bright for all of you.
Congratulations to the graduating class of 2018; we certainly all deserve it!