High school students from regional NSW are one step closer to their dream careers thanks to a residential program run by UNSW’s ASPIRE program.

Year 10 students from Coonamble and Condobolin High Schools are living on campus this week to gain work experience as part of ASPIRE’s annual WOW@UNSW (Week of Work at UNSW). 

ASPIRE is a social inclusion initiative that actively promotes university to primary and high school students from low socio-economic backgrounds. It has assisted several thousand students since its inception in 2007.

WOW@UNSW helps regional students make the transition from school to work and university by offering practical advice and work placements that aren’t available in their region.

Local veterinary and dental surgeries, the White House Institute of Design, the Police Prosecutor’s office, the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art and various UNSW faculties have been hosting students.

“Lack of vocational options, distance, travel and costs are all barriers that limit work experience programs in regional areas - WOW@UNSW aims to help alleviate those issues,” said ASPIRE Regional Outreach Project Officer, Kate McGown.

Antisia Elsley and Leeanne Whyburn from Coonamble High School have spent the week at VETMED in Randwick getting closer to their mutual dream of becoming vets.

“I rate this experience 10 out of 10, all the staff have been so patient and really good at explaining everything to us. I definitely want to be a vet,” said Elsley.

Whyburn has numerous pets on her cattle farm 18 kms from Coonamble. She describes observing animal surgery as “fascinating”.

“We’ve been allowed to prep dogs for surgery and then watch the procedure, I know I want to go to university and study veterinary science now.”

VETMED Practice Manager, Annabelle Selleck, grew up on a remote sheep property and has firsthand experience of the limitations of choosing a career path in a rural area.

“I wish I’d had the opportunity to see the inner working of a vet’s surgery at their age, I would have known what I wanted to study a lot earlier,” she said. “The girls have been so enthusiastic and polite and eager to learn, it’s been wonderful having them here,” said Selleck.

Between 2009 and 2012, there has been a 39 percent increase in the number of students from ASPIRE partner schools receiving offers from universities.

Media contact: Fran Strachan |  9385 8732 | 0429 416 070