School of Indigenous Studies

Zara Pitt


UWA Graduate Zara Pitt 


Prior to attending the Orientation Course at UWA I did not think that attending university was an option for me. I did complete high school but I did not undertake any TEE subjects and shortly after finishing high school I fell pregnant. A few years later my aunty told me about the Orientation Course and suggested I give it a try. I enrolled in 2006 and I had two small children, I realised I could not commit to my studies as much as I needed to. I discussed my concerns with SIS staff and they suggested I re-enrol the following year. I did just that and the rest is history. I completed the Orientation course and was accepted into mainstream university.

I enrolled in the Orientation Course thinking I would study Law and by the time I had completed the course I knew that a Law degree was not for me. The Orientation Course prepared me for university life; it demonstrated the type of commitment I would be making and it equipped me with the fundamental tools and confidence I needed, in order to be successful at university in later years. Through the course I was able to decide which units to study when I enrolled into my Bachelor’s degree. However, even though I knew I would be an Arts student, I was unsure about what I could really do with an Arts degree. Little did I know, the possibilities are endless.

I spent the first year of my Arts degree taking various units in the hopes that I would find my niche. Thankfully I did. By my second year I knew that I would undertake a double major in History and English. I enjoyed both subjects, though history was my favourite, particularly as I undertook units in Australian history. By this time I also knew that I wanted to be a teacher and that I would have to undertake additional study once I completed my degree. I also knew that after attending university for four years I needed a short term break from studying.

I was fortunate to receive a cadetship with DEEWR while I was at university. They paid my university fees, gave an additional book allowance and paid me a salary as a Cadet employee.  Part of my commitment to them was that I had to work 12 weeks out of the year at the Department. I was able to do this over the summer break so it did not interfere with my study commitments and while I worked, my wage increased. In addition, one of the terms of the Cadetship was that once I complete my degree, I commit one year to working in the Department. For me the cadetship was great, I was paid to study and then guaranteed employment when I finished uni which saved me job hunting. This also offered me the perfect short term break I was looking for so that I could return to do my Masters in Teaching.

My experience at University was great, it took an immense commitment on my part but it was really worth it. I would and do recommend people undertake an Arts degree. There is a vast amount of flexibility in what you can study and it is never boring. History and English majors offer students a range of units to choose from and the co-ordinators and lecturers of both departments are always helpful. I can’t speak highly enough. The content matters of both disciplines are insightful and challenging and for a studious student the rewards are immense.