Who is the NT’s Young Achiever of the Year 2017, an ambassador for the Office of Indigenous Student Support, a volunteer with the Bilata Indigenous Pathways Program, a member of the Winkiku Rrumbangi Indigenous Lawyers Association, a Treasurer of the NT AIDS and Hepatitis Council and the youngest board member of Danila Dilba Health Service? The answer is simple - Mark Munnich, a man who dropped out of year 10 and didn't finish high school. A few years later, Mark studies Bachelor of Laws, works full time as a legal educator and is cherished for his selfless contribution to the community.
We asked him about what motivates him along his journey to where he is today. Here’s what he had to say…
What motivated you to take on studying law?
It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do before I started. I decided to study law, as I was passionate about social justice issues and, in particular, Indigenous issues, and I wanted to make a change. As I got more into the law studies I realised there's more to law than just social justice and Indigenous issues, and I looked at the other facets of law such as environmental law, migration law, and international human rights. The CDU School of Law has really opened my eyes to the different opportunities out there. My goal after I finish study would be to seek admission and become a court advocate.
What do you like most about studying with CDU?
What I love the most about studying at CDU is the flexibility; the relaxed way of learning and delivery. As I work full time it's difficult to get to classes but I'm able to watch lectures later via recordings. I also love the support from the Office of Indigenous Student Support Services. They have been a big supporter during some of the tough times that I've faced.
I also want to acknowledge the lecturers at the School of Law as they are very supportive and influential as they know their students personally rather than just being known as a student ID number. Many are practicing barristers, which is great.
I reflect on how far I have come from that young man I was who dropped out of school, and never thought that I would go to university; to now where I am nearing the end of my degree. The experience and knowledge I have gained has been invaluable.
What were your biggest challenges when deciding to study?
One of the biggest challenges that I had at first was the ‘fear of failure.’ Because I didn't finish high school and dropped out half-way through year 10, I didn't know how to write an essay or what was expected in exams, and that really put pressure on me. But having a tutor who supported me really assisted me in overcoming the challenges that I faced.
My advice to others would be to use the support services that our university has to offer and to make the most of your studies. And if you ever feel nervous or anxious about beginning study, I say just give it a go! That's what it took for me to get into it and maintain what I'm doing.
How do you plan to make a difference and contribute to a better future with your degree?
After I finish university, I hope use my skills and knowledge to contribute back to my community in whatever capacity I can. I hope to practice law and become a barrister so that I can stand up for those who don't have a voice and get the best outcomes and justice for them. Another part of me hopes to further my studies with a postgraduate degree such as Masters or PhD in law, and to come back to CDU and lecture in law.
I also want to acknowledge the lecturers at the School of Law as they have been very supportive and influential as they know their students personally rather than just being known as a student ID number.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to share about your experience studying with CDU?
I could not personally thank CDU enough for what the experience they have given me as a student. I reflect on how far I have come from that young man I was who dropped out of school, and never thought that I would go to university; to now where I am nearing the end of my degree. The experience and knowledge I have gained has been invaluable.
You can study a Diploma, Associate Degree, Bachelor or Master of Law and Legal Studies online or on campus. Learn more about how you can get involved in Law at CDU.