Indigenous Student In Focus - Alyza Yeatman

[supplied by Bond Uni]

Image: supplied

When we talk about our Indigenous education program at Bond University, we often highlight the fact that every successful student is an inspiration to their siblings, cousins, friends and the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.


Like ripples in a pond, every Indigenous scholarship and every Indigenous graduate results in an ever-expanding circle of influence. One of our newest Indigenous Scholarship recipients – Alyza Yeatman – is a perfect example.


“My cousin Marita has been studying at Bond for the past few years,” says Alyza who is in the first semester of her Bachelor of Business.


We’ve known each other all our lives, growing up together in Yarrabah – just outside of Cairns – until my family moved further north to a small community near Weipa. Marita was the one who suggested I apply for the Indigenous Scholarship at Bond…and now, here I am!” Both cousins have also been inspired by their fathers:


“My dad graduated from university and I’ve always wanted to be like him so there was never any question for me about going to university,” said Marita Miller, who will graduate with her Bachelor of Business degree this year.


Alyza’s father – rugby league legend, Leon Yeatman – earned his Bachelor degree at QUT and has devoted his life to working with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities. He currently serves as CEO of Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council. “Dad has been a big influence on me going to university because he’s always been a community leader,” says Alyza.


Mum is also really focused on education and is studying her Business degree at James Cook University at the same time I am here at Bond.”


After growing up surrounded by a large community of extended family and friends in Yarrabah, 11-year-old Alyza and her family relocated 950km north when her father was appointed CEO of Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council.


In this remote former mission site with a population of less than 400 people, Alyza’s schooling in Old Mapoon was in a class of 14 children, all in different grades. At age 12, Alyza moved away from her family to finish her last year of primary school in Cairns and received a scholarship through the Cape York Leaders Program to attend high school as a boarder at Clayfield College in Brisbane.


An initiative of Noel Pearson’s Cape York Partnership, the Cape York Leaders Program awards scholarships for promising high school students from Cape communities to attend leading boarding schools throughout Queensland.


“I loved the Leadership Program,” says Alyza. “They run a camp for all the students before school starts each year and you meet so many people from different parts of the Cape. They do the basics like teamwork and leadership skills but they also talk a lot about community. They give us the opportunity to move away from home and gain an education so we can bring that learning and experience back to help our communities grow. I don’t know yet what career path I will ultimately choose but, whatever I end up doing, I want to take that back home to inspire others in my community.”


Alyza is one of 11 new Indigenous Scholarship recipients starting at Bond this year, hailing from Yarrabah, Tamworth, Hervey Bay, Darwin, Melbourne and the Gold Coast. As each one graduates over the next few years, they will encourage their younger sisters, brothers, cousins and friends back home to dream bigger dreams for themselves; to think that ‘maybe I can do that too’.


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