A group of 20 primary-school-aged students made history on Tuesday 29 March.
As part of a Victorian-first pilot program with Swinburne University of Technology, 20 pint-sized graduates and their proud family members and carers descended on Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus.
Opening hearts, minds and doors
The graduating students from Boronia K-12 College are part of Children’s University Swinburne, a program aimed at breaking the cycle of educational disadvantage and creating the next generation of STEM thinkers, innovators, creators and entrepreneurs.
Children’s University Swinburne members, Swinburne’s Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Pascale Quester and Boronia K-12 College Principal Matthew Scammell. Note the special ‘graduation necklace’ made of lollies!
It is a program close to Swinburne Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Pascale Quester’s heart.
“The Children’s University program produces a lifelong learning mindset. It develops further education aspirations from a young age and builds more confidence in classwork. I was absolutely thrilled to welcome Swinburne’s, and in fact, Victoria’s, very first graduating cohort,” says Professor Quester.
University-style learning deserves a university-style graduation
Every student in attendance had completed hours of self-directed learning as part of the Children’s University Swinburne program. And that meant they got to experience a university-style graduation, inclusive of gowns, mortarboards, the national anthem, and a ceremonial mace (which proved almost as entertaining to the children as Professor Quester’s amusing explanation of it did).
The air was thick with excitement, nerves, muffled giggles, unbridled laughter, the aroma of graduation cupcakes and some unusual (and unusually small) academic attire.
Children’s University Swinburne Coordinator Naomi Barran says you could see the attitudes of the children change as they donned their gowns.
“They were all pretty impressed with themselves. You could see that they felt special and important,” she says.
And rightly so, given what they’d achieved. But many Children’s University Swinburne members aren’t stopping at 30 hours of self-directed learning. Some have already added more hours to their learning passports, and others have already signed up for more.
Boronia K-12 STEM Program Coordinator, Sharyn Williamson and a Children’s University Swinburne member.
The first step of a lifelong learning journey
The graduates heard stirring speeches from Swinburne’s Professor Pascale Quester and astronomer Dr Sara Webb.
Generously divulging their personal educational journeys, they reinforced the message that with passion, curiosity and determination you can achieve anything.
Parents and carers swelled with pride as they saw the children walk to the stage and accept their graduation certificates from the Vice-Chancellor.
A proud Children’s University Swinburne member with her family.
Naomi says the culmination of the children’s efforts and seeing the families coming together was incredibly moving and filled her and all those involved with a deep sense of pride and purpose.
“I can see how important Children's University Swinburne is to them. I was so proud to see them all gowned up, to see the self-confidence it gave them, and to see how impressed and surprised they were with the importance we were placing on their efforts. I think we will see a fair few of them back for their next certificates.”
Head of Junior School, Boronia K-12 College, Cassie Wright says the event celebrated not just their present success but also how their dedication and commitment to learning beyond the classroom walls will set them up for the future. “Every moment of the evening was special for them. The students felt proud of themselves, and we were equally as proud as a school community,” says Cassie.
Want to get involved?
Does Children’s University Swinburne sound like a program you’d like to support? Or do you know a child or a school that would like to get involved? Find out more.