Selena Uibo
Selena Uibo
13 December 2010

For UQ graduand Selena Uibo, giving back is her driving force.

This year, she has helped build a classroom in Vanuatu, attended an international youth conference in Malaysia and volunteered at an Indigenous youth leadership camp, to name just a few of her achievements.

This evening, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education, (secondary), and has ambitions of teaching in a remote part of Arnhem Land, the region where her mother is from.

“Wanting to impact young peoples’ lives the same way I’ve been impacted through my education is what’s driven me to get the piece of paper,” she said.

With both of her parents teachers, she said the importance of education was instilled from an early age.

Ms Uibo grew up in the Northern Territory – she spent her first 10 years in Batchelor, then moved to Darwin, where her family is still based.

Making the 3000km move to Brisbane for university was tough, but she said the UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit offered great support.

“They’re there behind every student 100 percent which is fantastic,” Ms Uibo said.

“They support us in more ways than one – not just the academic, but also the emotional and wellbeing side as well.

“People come from along way from home, like me coming from Darwin, so just having someone to talk to when you need to is important.”

Ms Uibo said she was “honoured and humbled” by the invitation to make the valedictorian address, and wanted to say something honest.

The experience of growing up in a multicultural family may also permeate through her speech: her mother is an Indigenous women from Numbulwar in south-east Arnhem Land, while her father is of Estonian and Irish descent.

“I feel there’s a lot of pressure to say something inspirational but I want to stay very truthful because I know people have come from different pathways and different walks of life, and we’re all just happening to share this one amazing moment together,” she said.

“It’s going to be all-encompassing as well as truthful.

“If it’s inspirational that will be a bonus!”

Ms Uibo will spend the first half of 2011 working at youth program in the US before returning to Australia and taking up a teaching position in the Northern Territory.

Ms Uibo will graduate at 6pm in the UQ Centre, alongside students who have completed education programs.

Media: Selena Uibo (0427 803 883) or Penny Robinson at UQ Communications (07 3365 9723,