The first days of uni

Host: Isolated Children’s Parent’s Association
Written by Sam Dillon

Sam grew up in Quilpie, Jundah and Birdsville and attended boarding school at St Brendan’s College, Yeppoon, approximately 1500km away. He has always had interest in school, even at Jundah State School where there was only 13 people. He has now finished his first year of University studying a Bachelor of Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering at the University of Queensland whilst obtaining high results. 


First days for everyone are always nerve racking, and in this case, it was the same. That emptiness in your gut as you walk into university for the first time and see 1000 – 2000 people is indescribable. I had been called up to the stage on my first day, in front of the crowd of thousands (which was huge as I grew up around Birdsville, population <200), to do a speech and to this day I have never been so nervous.

sam-1-1-copyFirst day in class, building bridges.

Skipping ahead 16 weeks, I am preparing to sit my engineering and math exams and I truly feel a part of the “Uni life”. I have made many friends and met so many different people, the experience of leaving such a small community to live in the capital of Queensland is incredible.

sam-1-2-copyMy Parents and I visiting University for the first time.

Coming from a boarding school and leaving home from Bedourie at the time, I had fears for my first year of uni, not just with the concepts but also with financing. Funding was going to be difficult being on my own and studying 30–40 hours a week in Brisbane without my parents. Thankfully we were eligible for youth allowance and due to ICPA’s commitment to rural and remote education, it is no longer asset tested for us rural people. Without all of these things, this first year would have been much more difficult and my stress would have been towards simply trying to live rather than studying.

I have now finished my first year of engineering and I am stunned at how much I have enjoyed the course so far, and also how many unique and intelligent people I have met along the way. I am preparing to study over the summer semester and then I’m straight back into it next year doing more courses, focusing my efforts in mechanical and aerospace engineering in particular. I had the opportunity to join new engineering teams that are a part of the university and even got to design a working glider!

sam-1-3-copyGlider that was designed for a subject.

I am extremely thankful to my mum and dad who have supported my journey all year.  Luckily I have adapted well to Brisbane and I enjoy living here. It was a huge shock coming from riding my quad bike to catching buses everywhere I go.

sam-1-4-copyTaking the quad for a ride in Betoota.

Overall the year has been a great success and I’m very happy with the choices I’ve made and thankful to the people that have helped me. It only gets harder next year but having such a good first year will make it so much easier financially and with the workload. The biggest help, besides my parents, was the support of ICPA pushing for changes for rural people.

ICPA (Aust) is a voluntary, non-profit, apolitical parent body, dedicated to ensuring all rural and remote students have equity of access to a continuing and appropriate education. We welcome membership and all interested persons are invited to join the Association.  To join click this link. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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