An Indigenous doctor inspired to pursue her medical career after attending University of Western Australia workshops as a high school student will join other Indigenous leaders to ignite the dreams of a new generation at a Leadership Seminar run by the University's School of Indigenous Studies (SIS).
In 1995, Safety Bay High School student Jodi Eatt became one of the first Indigenous students to attend a medical camp run by the Faculty of Medicine. The camp proved so popular among Indigenous students that it prompted the SIS and Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health to expand their high school outreach program and establish the Health Careers Workshop for Indigenous Students in 2000.
Dr Eatt, by then well into her medical degree and acutely aware of the importance of leadership and being a role model to younger students, was the first to put her hand up to help. She provided instruction and supervision with plastering and suturing activities, and continued to make herself available throughout her university career to speak to students at leadership seminars and careers workshops.
"Students who attended the camps were truly motivated and encouraged by Jodi's commitment and passion to become a doctor," SIS Outreach Program coordinator Ray Garrett said. "She is an inspiration to many students aspiring to university."
Dr Eatt, now a resident medical officer in the emergency department at Rockingham General Hospital, will return to UWA later this month to speak at the 2013 Leadership Seminar about her own experiences of leadership and pursuing her dreams. Indigenous Leaders such as Member for Hasluck, the Hon. Ken Wyatt; Dean of Indigenous Studies, Winthrop Professor Jill Milroy; and respected Noongar elders, Professor Len Collard and Dr Richard Walley, will do the same.
Dr Eatt said she hadn't entertained the idea of medicine as a career until being visited in Year 12 by SIS representatives and hearing someone suggest it as a possibility.
"With the idea seeded in my mind, I was then invited to attend the Health Careers Seminar and Year 12 Leadership Seminar as a way of introducing me to university studies, and health careers in particular," she said. "I was unaware that Medicine was an option for me, so I was thrilled when I was accepted into the course in 1996."
She completed her studies in 2001 and, after taking a 10-year break to raise her children, expects to soon begin specialist training in Psychiatry.
"I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity - I have found a career that I love and to think it all started with someone saying 'You can do it!'" she said. "In speaking to the current Indigenous Year 12 students attending the program I hope that I might do the same for them."
The Leadership Seminar is a five-day residential camp for Indigenous Year 11 and 12 students from around the State. It focuses on student leadership and transition from high school to university.
The seminar is part of the School of Indigenous Studies' High School Outreach Program, now in its 21st year of making a difference to Indigenous enrolments at UWA. This year, 70 per cent of new Indigenous enrolments participated in the Outreach Program while in high school.
The program aims to familiarise Indigenous high school students with the UWA environment and the courses offered, give them an opportunity to experience what it's like to be a university student, and introduce them to positive role models already studying at university.
During this year's seminar, students will participate in academic and personal development workshops, social and cultural activities. They will visit various faculties at UWA and attend information sessions from the Prospective Students Office, University Hall and the School of Indigenous Studies. Students will also "buddy up" with current UWA Indigenous students, attend a lecture, and hear first-hand about their buddy's experiences and personal pathway from school to university.
Other WA universities have been invited to attend the Seminar to provide information about their courses, pathways and opportunities.
Seminar coordinator Brendon DeGois said a large proportion of past attendees had gone on to tertiary study and become lawyers, doctors and engineers, among other professions.
The Year 11/12 Leadership Seminar will be held from Sunday 28th April to Thursday 2nd May, 2013. The official opening, with speakers including Mr Wyatt and Dr Eatt, will be held at the University Club on Monday 29th April.