New students given a warm welcome to ANU

15 Feb 2022

You will learn to look through different lenses here (at ANU), the greatest challenge of which is to do so with curiosity and humility

Cabrogal woman Mikaela Jade, an alumna from The Australian National University (ANU) who founded Australia's first Indigenous edu-tech company Indigital, helped to welcome new students to ANU at this year's Commencement Address. 

Mikaela delivered the keynote address at yesterday's event to about 1,000 people on the lawns of University Avenue and to hundreds of others who tuned in online. 

She founded Indigital in 2014, using digital technologies to help preserve and proliferate 80,000 years of human knowledge while engaging First Nations peoples in education that leads to skills, jobs, and wealth creation to build a stronger future for all. 

"I'm just a normal person, a small business owner, who was sitting where you are only two years ago wondering where an advanced degree at ANU in cybernetics would take me, and indeed, wondering what cybernetics was at all," said Mikaela, who completed a Masters degree at the ANU School of Cybernetics last year. 

"I can tell you two years later that cybernetics profoundly affects us all and I can recommend you take a look at the School. The people there are building, managing and decommissioning our AI-enabled future." 

"You will learn to look through different lenses here (at ANU), the greatest challenge of which is to do so with curiosity and humility," Mikaela said. 

Connection is deeply human, she said, and she urged the new ANU students to be connected to Country. 

"I can tell you as a person who was removed from my culture, an understanding of who my people are, knowing not just where you come from, but who you came from, can transform you.  

"First Nations Peoples' are not the only ones with ancestors - we all have them. As with my people, your ancestors imagined you and they walk with you in your DNA - they are a part of you."   

All knowledge is important, but has a right time, and a right place and a right context, Mikaela said.  

"Some things you learn here might shape global policies, make new discoveries and earn you a great salary. Some will be as ancient as our species and keep you alive when you need it most." 

She delivered her keynote address alongside other speakers:  

  • ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian P. Schmidt  

  • Christian Flynn, the Undergraduate Representative on ANU Council and President of the ANU Students' Association (ANUSA) in 2022 

  • Ngunnawal woman Delephene Fraser, who is studying a Masters in Public Policy at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy and is acting President of the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students' Association (PARSA)    

  • the master of ceremonies, ANU demographer Dr Liz Allen. 

To improve accessibility, Auslan interpreters simultaneously translated all speeches and provided captioning during the online streaming of the event. 

As master of ceremonies, Liz shared her inspirational story of how she overcame adversity in life to find her place at ANU.  

"I want to welcome you to the ANU community, the ANU family. No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter where you're Zooming in from, you are welcome here," she told the audience at Commencement yesterday. 

"It wasn't until I got much older and came to ANU as a very mature-age student that I realised the power of asking for help." 

Liz made a special mention of ANUSA and PARSA to the new students in the crowd: "They are your representatives, and when they say, 'if you need help, ask for help and come find us', they mean it. They don't just say it with words, they follow through with actions." 

You can read Liz's story here.   

As a part of the University's commitment to reaching net-zero emissions by 2025, attendees were encouraged to bring their own plate or container to the barbecue after the event to reduce waste.