My name is Brad Rice and I am from the Wiradjuri tribe and I would like to share my journey.
Throughout I have been faced with challenges, not just with my studies, but myself. I started studying a Bachelor of Mathematics (Advanced) at UOW back in 2011. I was doing quite well within my studies until the last 6 months of my degree. My family fell apart and it took me 6 years to finish my last six months.
I went from Distinctions and High Distinctions to fails, I stopped attending lectures, labs, tutorials and exams. I was my own worst enemy. I was at my lowest point in my life, but with the right help I managed to gather all of my determination and grit to escape my depression and complete my undergraduate degree.
The University gave me an opportunity to fix my transcript and to undertake my current degree, a Master of Computer Science (Machine Learning and Big Data). Through this, showing the world that I had bounced back via my results, I became employed as an ITAP tutor. This allowed me to give the support to other students that I wish I could’ve had. Surprisingly, helping others gave me the strength, confidence and drive to continue my journey.
Over this phase of rebuilding myself I’ve managed to go from down and out, to a more complete individual. I’m now full of hope once more because of the opportunities WIC and UOW have presented to me. I’m now a Master’s Student, an ITAP tutor and a Chevron cadet, proud of myself and looking forward to a bright future.
Recently I have applied for an Aboriginal Cadetship through Chevron for Information Systems. I was reluctant to apply specifically for Indigenous listed positions believing that there was a stigma associated with this. This stigma was driven by my arrogance believing that I didn’t need specifically designed opportunities and that I was ‘the right fit’ irrespective if that was indeed the case. My battles with the aforementioned depression really grounded me, removed this self-imposed barrier and allowed me to pick the right battles and go for the right opportunities.
Two weeks ago I accepted the offer for Chevron and I begin this at the start of August. I will be assigned a mentor that will assist me with my studies and 12 weeks of work placement at their Perth office until the end of my degree. Chevron currently gross 159 billion USD in revenue and are one of the top 20 companies worldwide. I am buoyed to have received this opportunity from such a large company. With my background in statistical Machine Learning methods, I will be expected to help the team to provide real time monitoring and prediction modelling to eliminate LPG foaming.
For my immediate future, I am torn between two possible paths I desire. One will take me to becoming a data scientist, whilst the other will take me towards a PhD. This is a decision I have to take relatively soon and I should mention I believe that these paths can’t be intertwined. What I mean here is that I believe I have the potential to be able achieve goals that lie on these paths respectively, it is the order I choose to do so. Depending on this choice I will have to sacrifice certain opportunities and responsibilities. If I choose to pursue my PhD first I have to be aware when I apply for industry placed positions that lack of experience may become a key differentiator. Similarly if I pursue a career in Industry then I must be prepared that I may never return to my studies. Irrespective of which path I decide to take it is important that I commit fully in order to stay happy, as both are tantalising prospects for myself.
I hope that by telling my personal journey I am able to inspire the readers that are currently facing any hardships and tribulations so they are able start progressing towards their desired paths. Be proud to be Indigenous, it isn’t a burden. Find the Indigenous opportunities that are being offered and go for them. Don’t waste your time, like I did, thinking the only progression forward was through removal of your Indigenous identity.