New faces for our Student Support Team

31 August 2020

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit recently farewelled a valued member of the Student Support team with the departure of Mark Gillard.

Mark Gillard says he will draw on inspiration from the students he has connected with at UQ over the past 18 months, as he transfers into a new role with Life Without Barriers on the Sunshine Coast.

“Our UQ students are so goal-oriented and focused. I wish I had their level of motivation when I was their age,” he says.

New staff member Rennae Hopkins, with Mark Gillard (inset).

Mark says he has appreciated the chance to work with the ATSIS Unit and may consider returning to UQ in coming years.

An Academic Services Support Coordinator at ATSIS, Danay Baker-Andresen says “Mark’s positivity, sense of humour and kind nature have been welcomed by the Student Support Team and students”.

UQ's ATSIS Unit is continuing to recruit for the Student Support team, with the first of the new positions now filled by Rennae Hopkins.

Rennae brings extensive work experience, including five years with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service, 20 years in the university sector and seven years in the Commonwealth Public Service. She has also earned a Bachelor of Creative Industries (with Distinction) from QUT.

For the past three years, she has worked as a Student Success Officer at GUMURRII Student Support Unit (SSU) at Griffith University.

“Together with the team, I would like to contribute towards enriched experiences for our students,” Rennae says.

“I believe I can use my own personal experiences and achievements and work with my team in partnership with students to make this happen.”

Rennae values her Aboriginal heritage from both sides of her family and identifies on her mother’s side as a Traditional Owner of the Pitta Pitta First Nations people. She is also a Maiawali Kaiawali woman, of the Boulia area of North West Queensland, but has lived in Brisbane most of her life.

“I remain culturally and family connected and have maintained a strong and deep understanding of my Ancestral dreaming together with my contemporary experience as an Aboriginal woman and mother,” she says.

“I have always believed my Aboriginality as my greatest strength, in overcoming adversity in successfully obtaining my tertiary qualifications with distinction at the age of 36 with five children.

“I feel very privileged and honoured to join you mob at UQ. I look forward to meeting you all in person as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Please feel free to drop me an email, and if you are on campus come in and have a yarn and a cuppa.”

You can reach Student Support at ATSIS Unit via (07) 3443 1404 or atsis@uq.edu.au .

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