Groote Eylandt scholar and former school captain,Travis Kennell, is the recipient of the Telstra Remote Aboriginal Award.
As an Angurugu resident he became the first person from his community to complete Year 12 at Alyangula Area School, and also undertook senior schooling through the Northern Territory School of Distance Education (NTSDE).
Beginning in Year 10, he remotely connected to his teacher and classmates by video about four times a week, but this limited contact restricted the ability of his teachers to offer guidance.
“Not being able to see your teachers was tough, and they were hard to get in contact with,” he said. “Having to figure things out for myself helped make me more independent.”
Alyangula Area School principal Tania Kolomitsev said the school’s staff helped Travis where needed, and each of his NTSDE teachers made annual visits to the island to assist his learning.
“Finishing Year 12 made me realise I can achieve something, even though it’s been a rough year,” he said. “I can do something if I put my mind to it, and I can be a good role model for my communities, as no one else has achieved this.”
Travis believes he has developed the level of self-sufficiency needed by those who undertake tertiary studies.
In 2018 he will work with BushFit — run by the Angurugu local community — but hopes to be employed in mining when he turns 18 to earn extra money, and the chance to travel with his work.
“It wasn’t a conventional schooling experience, but I got through all of my final subjects and I have many prospects ahead of me,” he said.
“You need to put your head down and focus – If you work hard to reach your goals you can achieve anything.”
Last updated: 14 February 2018
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