Self-belief and determination - backed by scholarships and support services - can help rural students overcome perceived barriers to further studies, Hedland students recently discovered when The University of Western Australia visited their classrooms earlier this month.
The message formed part of a recent UWA Gives Back Pilbara Tour to celebrate the University's Centenary Year and encouraged local high school students to consider studying at UWA to gain new knowledge for their resources-rich communities.
The visitors included Eli Hurley, who grew up in Derby, served four years in the Australian Regular Army and now studies engineering science and finance as part of a Bachelor of Science degree at UWA.
Eli aims to create a new astronautics business and invited Hedland Senior High School students to draw inspiration from his own story.
"Growing up, I never expected to find myself where I am today, and that was for a very simple reason - it didn't seem possible," Eli said.
"Luckily, this didn't turn out to be the case for me, but for many other young people in remote and rural townships, this insidious misconception can be a huge barrier to tertiary education.
"I would like to help remove this barrier and see more of our rural kids gain the self-belief and determination to achieve above and beyond the status quo and external expectations.
"Young people (especially the ones straight out of high school) have lots of soul-searching to do in terms of finding what they're really passionate about.
"I believe UWA's many student groups, clubs, organisations and events are one of the best ways for students to achieve this - as I have done and continue to do."
The UWA Gives Back Pilbara Tour was presented by the UWA Business School as part of the University's 2013 Centenary Celebrations to encourage high school students to consider tertiary studies, and to stimulate local debate on important regional issues at a series of high-level Leaders' Luncheons in Karratha, Port Hedland and Newman.
The Tour was supported by BHP Billiton, Woodside and Resource Capital Funds.