As a young girl growing up in a remote community in Queensland’s Mt Isa, Tiarnee Schafer, a proud Kalkadoon woman, never imagined how her life could be transformed through tertiary education.
Home-schooled throughout her primary years and then to Mt Isa for secondary, she finished school in 2011 and went straight into the workforce. She wasn’t sure she was ready for university, nor what she wanted to study. All she knew for certain was that she had a passion for working with and helping people.
The first in her family to attend university, Tiarnee is now in the third year of a double degree in business and psychology at Griffith University and says her internship with CareerTrackers has opened doors to a world of opportunities.
She has interned with Caltex for two years and after completing her first internship obtained a part-time position in human resources with the company, working one day a week during university semester.
“The internship has given me a head start and has had such a positive impact on my life both personally and professionally,’’ she says.
“This internship experience has put me one step closer to achieving my goal of developing a career that I enjoy and am passionate about, as well as encouraging me to become a role model for other Indigenous people who want to attend university.”
Tiarnee has embraced her role as a student ambassador with CareerTrackers. Some of her roles include being an AIME mentor, a student ambassador with the Australian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment, Indigenous justice officer volunteer at a prison, mentor for opportunity hub Tamworth, student mentor for Mount Isa Schools for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and encouraging students to pursue university pathways.
Tiarnee credits the GUMURRII Student Support Unit with helping her achieve her goals.
“Relocating to Brisbane from Mt Isa was one of the biggest challenges I have faced as I didn’t know many people in Brisbane and having to adapt to a completely different lifestyle was quite hard.
“But with support from GUMURRII students and staff I was able to meet these challenges.”
GUMURRI has also helped develop Tiarnee’s knowledge and experience. She will soon attend the first Indigenous-led suicide prevention conference in Alice Springs.
“This will not only help with my studies but also my healing journey,’’ she said.