Ready to inspire learning in others

31/03/2021 | 2mins

Ulani Hayter Otaola

About Ulani Hayter Otaola

Ulani Hayter Otaola is a first-year Engineering Science student with an interest in the Biomedical specialisation. She comes from Broome, a town in the Kimberley region, and credits her childhood for her strong desire to solve complex social problems. 

Ulani came to UWA via the Fairway entry pathway, which is a comprehensive support program for students completing Year 12 under challenging circumstances. The program provides proactive academic and personal support throughout students’ last year of high school and during their time at university. It is uniquely responsive to individual student needs, helping them achieve their true academic potential.

Being part of the largest Fairway cohort of students to UWA, Ulani is surrounded by likeminded peers at her university college, which has provided an avenue where her passions for sport, volunteering and social connections are not constrained by location or cost. 

She hopes that through her degree she will be able to apply her curiosity for biomedical design and innovation to create positive change in society.

Making the transition to university life

I first learned of Fairway while I was at Broome Senior High School and joined the program in 2019. I was part of the summer and winter school camps, which were enriched with opportunities for networking and personal growth along with workshops based on furthering our academic potential. Examples of these activities included math tutorials, essay structure workshops and tours of the UWA campus. Along with these camps, the program also offered year-long subscriptions to academic support websites, tutoring and subject-specific workshops as well as wellbeing checks during the stressful final year of schooling and ATAR. I know all of this continued support contributed to my successful final-year result.

Support from my peers and mentors in the program made a huge difference to my mental wellbeing as well as the additional study courses to which Fairway financially contributed. While I was assisted academically, the program also made a difference to how I perceived entry into tertiary education, allowing me to recognise the range of entry pathways and the financial and social help offered by UWA.

Being part of a supportive Fairway community

I have made lifelong friends through the Fairway program. The sense of belonging and inclusivity is heart-warming, and, knowing that many of my Fairway peers are in the same units, clubs or sport teams is reassuring. 

I hold the Fairway graduation certificate with pride. The description of Fairway students as a family is not far-fetched – the program has a heartfelt aim that results in a strongly bonded student community, with similar circumstances, goals and struggles. This common experience contributes to my immediate sense of belonging at the University.

The Fairway staff have a role incomparable to many; they are responsible for providing disadvantaged students with equal opportunities regardless of circumstances, yet they take on this role with a warmth and care that demonstrates what sets apart the Fairway program from many others. Student and staff mentors take the time to become friends with you, learn about what scares you and what you may need help with – they’ve helped me mitigate my fears. 

Next steps

My generation asks the big questions, and I am hoping to contribute to finding the answers. After the completion of my engineering degree, I plan to create innovative technology for developing countries, thereby combining my love for travel with my passion for aiding the disadvantaged. I know that Fairway will continue to support my aspirations as a female engineer, and I hope to join the Fairway team as a mentor. I would like to inspire lifelong learning in others and give back to the program that has already given me so much.

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