Over 15 years ago, at the 2008 Brisbane Gala Dinner, a young Mikayla Roe took to the stage at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre – the very first Yalari scholar to speak at a gala dinner. She was in Year 8.
She recalls: “I just remember standing up on that stage and looking up and it seemed like a whole lot of people. It was kind of a blur because of how nervous I was.”
Four years later, in 2012, Mikayla graduated from Rockhampton Grammar School – the world ahead of her.
The 11 years since graduation has seen her take a few different paths: she initially began studying a Bachelor of Applied Science with a major in Vet Tech before deciding that wasn’t the path for her.
A career in the mining industry followed.
“I got an 18 month traineeship operating machinery and operating the trucks to begin with.”
Mikayla looks back at her seven years in mining with a sense of pride – during her time she played a role in breaking down barriers for women in what has traditionally been a very male-dominated industry.
“I ended up getting my tickets to drive trucks, water carts and then end up on the dozer. I was the first female operator in the mine site that I was at, which was really exciting because women on things like dozers and excavators aren’t really a big thing.
“So it’s a pretty big achievement to just be nominated as the first one to come through and then set that stepping stone for others to follow suit on the crew.”
Eventually though, Mikayla had decided it was time to move on. While completing her traineeship, she also did her Diploma in Community Services, so when the time to leave the mining industry came, she had a good idea of where she wanted to be.
“I was in that mindset of wanting to leave mining, but I didn’t want to just go to any job. I wanted to make sure I was going to the right job, something that I was going to enjoy and allow me to lead a bit more of a normal life, I suppose. And yeah, Deadly Choices was absolutely perfect.
“We get to run preventative health programs in schools and with community groups where we are located to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids and people to live healthy lifestyles.
“And now I’m just looking forward towards the future. I’ve got this job that I didn’t realise I’d love as much as what I do and so now, I’m just trying to be the best that I can be within this job.”
11 years since graduating, Mikayla recently attended the Yalari 10+ Year Reunion, held at RACV Royal Pines Resort for the Classes of 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.
This group – some of the very first Yalari alumni – came together from all over the country, in some cases for the first time in over a decade, to reconnect with each other and strengthen the bonds that exist within the alumni community.
And the reunion was a special one for Mikayla. It was 15 years since she took the stage at the 2008 Yalari Brisbane Gala Dinner, and she shared her honest, grateful and emotional story once more at the formal dinner in front of her fellow alumni, Yalari staff and supporters; a reminder of the long-lasting impact a Yalari scholarship and being a part of the Yalari mob has on our scholars.