Empowering Mia's Dreams

At just 12 years old, Mia Nakata embarked on a transformational journey from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait down to the City of Logan in Southeast Queensland to start a Yalari scholarship with John Paul College.

Driven by her passion for basketball and a desire to uphold her family’s sporting legacy, Mia was eager to excel in sport, and recognised the academic and athletic support she would gain through a Yalari scholarship.

“When I interviewed Mia with her mum and dad, she was already flying to Cairns regularly to play basketball in a competition down that way” said Llew Mullins, Managing Director of Yalari. “She was already flying independently and confidently without her parents.”

Mia at her Yalari Orientation Camp in 2020.

Since commencing her scholarship four years ago, Mia reflected on the opportunities that the Yalari scholarship has provided her with, encouraging her to step outside her comfort zone and connect with other Yalari students.

“When I’m at home everyone is family and you know everybody… but here you don’t really know a lot of people at first, you get to meet new people and meet new friends.”

With less than two years left of her scholarship at John Paul College, Mia has already set her sights on the next step for her path after school. She is driven to pursue her dreams in basketball overseas and continue her studies.

“My top college right now is University of Hawaii. That’s been my [top] college for a little bit now and I’d study marine, either marine archaeology or anything along the lines of oceanography.”

“I’d also be able to play basketball, I would go in the middle of 2026 if I do commit to a college, and I would be there for 4 or 5 years just playing and [studying].”

Mia’s story exemplifies the profound impact of providing Indigenous youth from remote areas with access to quality education and support networks, which opens up a world of possibilities.

Since its inception in 2005, Yalari has awarded over 780 scholarships to Indigenous children from regional areas to provide a brighter future for Indigenous Australians.

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