Taylor learns of a hidden legacy*.

Her grandmother had a story that spurred Taylor to succeed.
Her grandmother had a story that spurred Taylor to succeed.

*Trigger warning: This story references a period when many Indigenous Australians felt compelled to conceal their Aboriginality. 
 
Although she is proud of her Aboriginal heritage, Taylor Baker had no idea about her indigenous legacy until she was in her teens. “Our family hid it when we were younger,” she says. “It comes from Alma, my grandmother on Dad’s side. Dad was born in 1956, still in the time of the Stolen Generation. They lived in Moree and back then they had to be really careful. To the day she died, Grandma claimed she wasn’t Aboriginal. She would tell people she was from Pakistan.”
 
Proud of her Kamilaroi background
Her grandmother’s story inspires Taylor to embrace her indigenous roots. She recalls the moment her family was recognised by an elder, saying, “I just want to be proud, especially when I think of Alma. It’s all part of who I am.”
 
Her father is another key inspiration in her life. “I think of how he left Moree at 16 and made a life for himself. Starting out as a kid with nothing from such a little town, he now has his own house in Sydney and his family is doing well. It makes me want to do well for my family in the future too,” she says.
 
A milestone for her family
As the first in her family to go to university, Taylor is already making her dad proud. She says, “It’s always been a thing for me to go to university. It’s always been on my mind. I know it’s a milestone for my family.”
 
While she was still in high school, Taylor learned her application to join the Jumbunna Pathways Program (run by the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS) had been successful. “It was before the HSC. I got a letter saying I had a $10,000 scholarship,” she says, “and I had to call up and check, ‘is this correct?’ and they said yes, they were covering my first year.”
 
Having almost completed her Diploma of Science at UTS College, Taylor’s next step will be a Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS. She says, “At first I was interested in medical and clinical science, but then I found out about Forensic Science at UTS, and it grabbed my attention. That’s what drove me to UTS. When I found out about that degree, I applied right away through Jumbunna.”
 
Building confidence at UTS College
Starting her pathway at UTS College has helped Taylor grow in confidence. “I had some great teachers,” she says. “I felt I was behind, compared to everyone else. They’d done advanced maths, chemistry, physics and all that in high school and I hadn’t. So, I did my very best and the supportive environment made a big difference. My Study Success Adviser, Michael was really good too. He helped a lot, and I would reach out to my lecturers if I was struggling.”
 
Planning her career
Taylor is looking forward to commencing her degree at UTS and is already making plans for her future career. She says, “I have a connection who does forensic science in the police force. I’ve been talking to her about applying for jobs. Forensic Science is very competitive so one option is to start by working with the police or government or something like that.”
 
She’s certainly already reached her goal of making her dad proud. “He was so happy about the scholarship,” she says, and I know he’ll be happy to see me graduate.”
 
About Jumbunna
The Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research supports the academic, social, cultural, and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at UTS. Its vision is to create a place where all Indigenous Australians can access education and be supported to succeed.