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Central West Queensland since 1923
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6 October, 2020

It's a Long (reach) way to the top!

HIGH-ACHIEVING Wiradjuri woman and University of Queensland biotechnology student, Keely Perry (19) of Longreach, is inspiring other Indigenous teenagers at remote schools to pursue careers within agriculture and STEM.

By Edwina Watson

Keely Perry

Ms Perry grew up in Longreach where she was High School Captain in 2018 and worked part-time as a bakery supervisor.

After completing Year 12, Ms Perry contacted CareerTrackers, an organisation that creates internship opportunities for hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students each year.

“My older sister spoke highly of her experience as a law student with CareerTrackers,” Ms Perry said.

“Involvement with them, and with groups like the National Youth Science Forum, is a game-changer for students from rural or Indigenous backgrounds.”

Ms Perry has since completed two Origin Energy internships and is involved as both a mentor and mentee with the CareerTrackers/CSIRO Young Indigenous Women in STEM Academy.

“People sometimes ask how a molecular and plant biology student comes to work with Origin Energy,” Ms Perry said.

“Origin’s interests now span plant-based renewable energy and biofuels, including the biogenic production of gas.

"I’m exploring postgraduate opportunities in that exciting area.

“I am passionate about helping to improve Australia’s future in biological and technological research and manufacturing, as well as finding ways to bolster the agricultural sector.”

Ms Perry said CareerTrackers had connected her to incredible opportunities.

UQ Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), Professor Bronwyn Fredericks, said she was thrilled that increasing numbers of students like Keely were gaining exciting opportunities and a range of workplace experiences during their studies.

“UQ is encouraging our students to get involved with CareerTrackers because we can see the work they do is a great help to students when they are moving into the workforce after graduation,” Prof. Fredericks said.

Ms Perry said she aimed to inspire other secondary students to enter science, technology, engineering and maths.

“Working with Origin, I really enjoyed the opportunities I had to help guide high school students on educational tours of power plants and LPG facilities,” Ms Perry said.

Ms Perry said through CareerTrackers she was invited to speak on “energy poverty” at a leadership event in Melbourne earlier this year.

“Thanks to my experience with Origin Energy, I was able to help guide a workshop about assembling and testing solar lights from the SolarBuddy program,” Ms Perry said.

“The program provides lights to communities lacking access to reliable energy, and we were able to present our lights to a Papua New Guinea representative for use in remote areas of his country.”

CareerTrackers has placed Indigenous interns across a range of fields in companies including Westpac, Lendlease, Qantas, Telstra, Herbert Smith Freehills and the Sydney Theatre Company.


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