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From bridging course to Mechanical Engineering

This article appears in:
Pathways to Uni, Future and Focus, Student Stories, Alumni, Engineering, Indigenous Futures

When Rikki Bruce graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering* from CDU, 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* This course has been replaced by the Bachelor of Engineering Science.

Thank you Vice-Chancellor.

Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Graduates...

First, 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 elder’s 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. Around this time, I felt that there was something empty, bouncing around unfulfilling, dead end jobs. It was only after having my beautiful baby boy Elijah that I realised that he deserved to have a better future in life. I deserved a better future in life.

This led to me enrolling into the Tertiary Enabling Program later that same 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 math skills. Rather than letting it convince me otherwise, it motivated me to work even harder.

I walked away with an important lesson, that you should never, ever, let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish something, because standing here in front of everyone, having followed this pathway to graduate with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, I can safely say that these people are 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, in addition allowing me to secure several placements where I gained practical experience. I also got to serve as a student ambassador and share my learning journey with many high school students considering university during my time here.

These skills helped improve my confidence in preparation for work in the real world, and in the end, have helped me secure my dream job working with Inpex.

Of course, success is not a solo effort. I’m sure everyone here can think of people who have helped along the way, whether by keeping us emotionally happy, or helping us to 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.

Rikki%20-%20GraduationThroughout my years here, the support and sight of you all has helped make each step easier, and I’ll truly miss being able to come in here, 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 deserved it.

If, like Rikki, you want to pursue an Engineering undergraduate degree and feel like you may need to brush up your maths skills, get started with CDU's free Tertiary Enabling Program.


This article appears in:
Pathways to Uni, Future and Focus, Student Stories, Alumni, Engineering, Indigenous Futures

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