7 June 2024

Drive to dismantle disadvantage in education results in national honour

| Dione David
Join the conversation
University of Wollongong professor Lisa Kervin

Professor Lisa Kervin of the University of Wollongong was this week made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the General Division for significant service to tertiary education and to research in early childhood digital literacy. Photo: Paul Jones/UOW.

Given her seemingly endless resume of qualifications, experience and awards in the realm of education, you’d be forgiven for assuming Lisa Kervin has been submerged in academia all her life.

Born in country NSW, the Director of the University of Wollongong’s Early Start Research was in fact the first person in her family line to complete high school and go on to university.

Her achievements, she says, are not despite her background, but because of it.

“My research is connected to my own personal story,” she says. “The opportunity to go to university was not something I ever anticipated or planned for. It was entirely new for my family.

“I have carried that life experience into my work. It’s why my literacy work as a teacher but in particular, my 20 years as a researcher has mostly been located in regional or vulnerable communities.

“My research aims to help improve educational trajectories for children. A key part of that is social justice – looking at the inequalities that exist in some communities, and thinking of ways we can enhance the educational opportunities available to all Australian children, particularly in regional and remote areas of our country.

“Things I think about are, ‘How can we work alongside children, their families and educators to provide meaningful and rich literacy experiences? What can we do to create opportunities for all our children, so they can look forward to a more positive future?'”

READ ALSO Wollongong researcher sinks her teeth into fight against multiple sclerosis

For “significant service to tertiary education and to research in early childhood digital literacy” Professor Kervin was this week made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the General Division.

In her long-standing career at the University of Wollongong, she has been a Professor of Education, Faculty of The Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities since 2018, an associate dean in research from 2017 to 2022, an associate professor in language and literacy from 2013 to 2018, a senior lecturer in curriculum and pedagogy and language and literacy from 2007 to 2013 and a lecturer in educational psychology and curriculum and pedagogy from 2005 to 2007.

She is currently the Academic Lead at the Children’s Technology Play Space in her capacity as a chief investigator for the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child. She is also involved with the development of the Tanzania Teaching and Immersion Program and has taken multiple groups of students to rural Tanzania.

READ ALSO Wollongong real estate agent Simon Scholtens shares his building blocks for happiness

Despite her impressive resume, Lisa says the recognition came as a “big surprise”, but added that the true reward was the work itself.

“It’s lovely to get an award like this, but the rewards I get are on a daily basis: when I see people I’ve taught go on to do amazing things, or the look of immense joy on a child’s face when they discover something new,” she says.

“It’s such a privilege to work in a field you’re so passionate about.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.