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Curtin mum scores more than a PASS at national awards

Media release

A mother-of-six and Curtin University health sciences student has won an Australasian-wide leadership award as part of the international Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) initiative.

Mother-of-six and Curtin University health sciences student, Terri da Costa
Mother-of-six and Curtin University health sciences student, Terri da Costa

Terri da Costa, who is in the second year of her health sciences degree, was one of four PASS facilitators from across Australasia and the Pacific to be recognised as an “outstanding new leader”.

The UniPASS program at Curtin is a collaborative academic assistance program in which successful senior students undergo intense training to become Peer Learning Facilitators. They then facilitate group study sessions in units that have a history of difficulty.

“The UniPASS program has been running at Curtin for almost three years and the results really do speak for themselves – the average grade increase for students involved is between 10 and 12 per cent,” Student Transition and Retention Team Associate Director Jim Elliott said.

“As a result of these improved grades, UniPASS has helped to increase Curtin’s student transition and retention.”

“We now have 32 peer learning facilitators running sessions in 21 units across all faculties and it’s fantastic to see someone like Terri being rewarded for her hard work with such a prestigious award.”

“Last semester she very successfully ran sessions for Indigenous students in Human Structure and Function and in semester two she is facilitating sessions in a maths unit at the Centre For Aboriginal Studies.”

Mrs da Costa, who is of Indigenous heritage, said she was shocked by the news of her award, which arrived on her birthday and brought her to tears.

“It was a great birthday present. It was a win for me just being in the top-eight, I had no idea I was actually going to get an award,” Mrs da Costa said.

“I really enjoy facilitating with the other students, forming new relationships and working as a team to understand things.”

“I like it when I see it in their eyes that they now understand something that they didn’t before.”

Mrs da Costa headed to New South Wales recently to receive her award and participate at the annual PASS forum being held by the University of Wollongong.

This is the second year in a row a Curtin UniPASS facilitator has won a PASS award. Last year Lavina Chagani, an international pharmacy student, was recognised as an “outstanding senior leader”.

The PASS initiative started at the University of Missouri and now operates in more than 1800 institutions in the United States and across 36 countries worldwide.

Media Contact:
Simon White, Media Consultant, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 1931; Mobile: 0401 103 683; Email:
Web: Twitter: @CurtinPR