MIKAYLA Hudson returned to Port Augusta this year and has been using her academic success to inspire the next generation of students.
The 20-year-old is working at Port Augusta Secondary School (PASS) as an Aboriginal Secondary Education Transition Officer (ASETO), while also tutoring Aboriginal students at the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation.
Her exceptional work with students earned her the 2017 NAIDOC Youth of the Year award, following an unexpected nomination from her grandmother Glenise Coulthard. Mikayla said she finds working with young people rewarding.
“I do my tutoring, but I also get to work with families and students and try to help them engage with school and make sure they’re getting the best outcome,” she said.
“My little sister is around the age of some of the students, so I’ve definitely got that connection to the kids.”
After attending PASS in Year 8 and 9, Mikayla departed Port Augusta for Adelaide to complete her remaining high school years at Westminster School.
Mikayla landed at Westminster through her connection with the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, which led to a scholarship in the Smith Family’s Indigenous Youth Leadership program.
Following her graduation from high school in 2014, Mikayla jetted off to the Gold Coast to attend Bond University, where she completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science.
Mikayla decided after several years away from her home that she wanted to spend 2017 in Port Augusta, before moving onto further study in Occupational Therapy. She is using her experience to encourage young people in the community to take their opportunities with both hands.
“I tell the students that when you get presented with these opportunities, don’t be afraid to take them,” Mikayla said.
“You can get offered to go to university and if that’s not something you want to do then at least you have the opportunity to say yes or no.”
Mikayla – who plays A Grade netball for Vikings – has a major role in PASS’ SACE-accredited program, South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy (SAASTA). The program allows her to combine her passions for sport and helping young people, which she also does voluntarily as Vikings’ under 15 coach.
Mikayla said no matter where her career takes her, sport will always play a big part in her life.
“I’ll see where Occupational Therapy takes me and see where my connection with sporting goes,” she said.
“Whether or not sport comes into it, I’m sure it’ll always be a big part of what I’m doing.”
Mikayla was grateful for the constant support she has received from her family and the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation.