Nura Gili News Edition 26 Apr. 2016 - Page 6

Riana’s Amazing Achievement One of the most distinguished awards breaks, exercising, eating healthy and spending time with family and friends. to be presented to an undergraduate student at UNSW is the University Medal. This award reflects outstanding academic performance and is awarded to the highest achieving student in each faculty/ school. Earlier this year, it was announced that the 2015 University Medal in Theatre and Performance Studies was awarded to Nura Gili student Riana Tatana. Riana is a Bundjalung and Maori woman from the Northern Rivers area of NSW and Tai Tokerau, New Zealand, who grew up in Lismore, NSW. She completed her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre and Performance Studies and minoring in English Literature in 2014. In 2015 she went on to complete her Honors in Theatre and Performance Studies creating a performance called Monday’s Child which was aimed at interrogating the essentialising constructions of Aboriginality. It was this project, along with her subsequent thesis, investigating the personal, theatrical, theoretical and creative process of Monday’s Child, that won her this prestigious award. “I was never really the most outstanding or gifted student in high school, so it really just goes to show that if you work hard, put in the effort and stay focused and determined, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.” high-income families that currently sits at 3 years. They place graduates without teaching degrees in socioeconomically disadvantaged schools to teach for at least two years whilst completing their Masters of Teaching online. Riana says the experience is extremely rewarding, crazy and incredibly enriching: “I am learning more from my students than they could ever learn from me.” On behalf of the staff and students at Nura Riana says that receiving an award for such a personal project that she dedicated so much time and effort towards, was an extremely incredible feeling. She believes it also recognises the potential of all young Indigenous students to succeed if given the opportunity to do so. Additionally, Riana feels as though this award stands as testimony to the ongoing and consistent support she received from the staff and students at Nura Gili throughout her degree. After reading the email that told her she had been awarded the medal, Riana was in such disbelief that she found herself googling what the award was in fear that she had read the email wrong. After the shock had dwindled and she had come to terms with it, she called her family to let them know, but they are yet to celebrate as Riana has moved away to teach in regional Victoria. But it was no easy ride. In her first semester of Honours, Riana was holding herself to extremely high expectations and standards, which she says were so unattainable that her health started to suffer. Thankfully, she had an amazing support system to help get her through this. Her support system made her realise that she was not being kind enough to herself and that self-care was much more important. She says that whilst setting goals and high-expectations for yourself is great, you can easily burn out if you don’t find a balance between study and other things like taking Riana is currently teaching as part of the Teach for Australia program, which is a not-for-profit organisation and social movement aiming to address Australia’s problem of educational disadvantage. The program hopes to close the achievement gap between students from low-income families and students from 6 7 Gili, we would like to express our congratulations to Riana on such an amazing achievement.