Tyrina's message to regional, Indigenous and interstate students: you can make it happen

By Emily McAuliffe

Tyrina Garstone moved from Broome to Melbourne to pursue her university studies – and now says she has the best of both worlds.

Tyrina GarstoneTyrina Garstone grew up with her mob on Yawuru country in Western Australia and felt incredibly lucky to attend a good school, surrounded by her family and community. She had a strong support network and close friends, and loved her hometown of Broome.

While at Broome Senior, Tyrina was heavily involved in the school’s Follow the Dream and Broome Girls’ Academy programs, which encouraged Indigenous students to pursue university studies. It was participation in these programs that opened her eyes to the world beyond WA, and a tertiary education in Victoria.

A school trip with the Girls’ Academy in Year 11 took her to Melbourne, and it was during this time that she got to know the city and started to picture herself living there. She also had the chance to stay at Trinity College and noted how beautiful the grounds were. ‘I just remembered it being gorgeous,’ she says of the Trinity campus, which she now calls home. On top of that, Trinity offered a generous scholarship program for Indigenous students, which made her Melbourne dreams become a reality.

Upon arrival at Trinity in 2019, Tyrina says she initially felt a divide between the private and public school students, and those from interstate, but the barriers quickly came down as everyone got to know each other. ‘Everyone is really nice, so it wasn't too hard getting friendly with all of them,’ she says. ‘When you arrive, you find people who are like-minded and easy to be around. And then once I had them, Trinity was quite enjoyable for me because I had these people by my side and we were navigating first year together.’ She now says she’s made some of her best friends through Trinity.

While Tyrina made plenty of friends across the whole of the college, she says that connecting with other Indigenous students is what really made her experience special. ‘There’s this immediate connection if you’re like ‘oh you’re Trinity mob as well?’ We really take care of each other.’

Tyrina has also formed close connections with other Indigenous students through Murrup Barak – the University of Melbourne’s institute for Indigenous development, where she studies nearly every day and gets to mingle with other students from outside college.

She is currently completing a Bachelor of Science, majoring in environmental and engineering systems, and is contemplating post-graduate study and a career in land conservation, working in the Kimberley.

‘I think moving to Melbourne made me realise how much I love Broome and Melbourne. It's made me appreciate Broome so much more than if I’d stayed at home – I now feel like I've got the best of both worlds,’ she says. ‘I get to go to university in a city where I have so many friends, which is Melbourne, and then I get to go back home as well and see my family.’

Her advice for anyone tossing up whether to make the move interstate to go to university? Just reach out for help, she says. Particularly if, like her, it feels like nobody else in your cohort is doing it.

‘I think doing it alone can be really hard, but just reach out for help to your high school or even the university that you're going to, and you can definitely make it happen.’

If you're a First Nations student thinking about applying to the University of Melbourne and living at Trinity College next year – get in touch! Head to our Indigenous Support page to learn about upcoming information sessions, as well as the support available. 

13 Jul 2021