Brittany speaking at the 2018 GO LaunchIt was January 2015 and Brittany Abraham couldn’t wait to start her Year 10 studies at Loreto Normanhurst as one of the GO Foundation’s founding scholars. “I felt very privileged to have that opportunity,” Britt says. “It became my driving force to work hard.  I had all that support behind me. Little did I know that a week into my new school year, a huge challenge would change my life.”

Britt was away on the south coast with her family not far off her Wadi Wadi Country enjoying a day out on the water, much like she had done since she was little. “In a moment, I went from spending the afternoon taking turns on the innertube with extended family at my uncle’s 80th birthday, to being in hospital, staring at the ceiling, being told I would be in a wheelchair and not walking,” she remembers.  “That was it for me. I was paralysed from the neck down.”

Britt doesn’t remember much of the high-speed tubing accident or being airlifted to the Randwick Children’s Hospital, but her week in the Intensive Care Unit had a profound affect. “I just remember lying there, watching my intensive care nurse, who was by my side around the clock, just taking in everything she was doing for me,” she says. “Without her, I would not be here today. She was my strength.

“I was 15, and I felt that everything had been taken away from me.  The thought of returning to school in a wheelchair was so scary,” says Britt. “While I was in hospital, Mum and I went up to the shops at Randwick with me in a wheelchair, and I went through that whole experience of feeling different.  I thought to myself, I’m that girl that people look at – that girl who I would once have looked at differently too.

“Then, one morning in hospital, I woke up and found that was able to move my fingertips, and slowly from there everything came back, and I got better.  By the time I went back to school, I had a whole new outlook on life. My experience had given me an ambition and a goal,” Britt continues.  “I knew then that I wanted to be an acute care nurse to give back the gift of life that that I’ve been given.”

Now 20, Britt is close to finishing her nursing degree at the University of New England in Armadale. “I’ve been recognised by the Indigenous Centre at UNE as one of four high achieving Indigenous Scholars. We’re part of the Tracks program, paired with Indigenous students to help them with their first year of nursing,” Britt says. “I really enjoy that because I’m giving back, and tutoring is paid work.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen Britt move back into her family home in Sydney while she completes her nursing placements. Then it’s on to further study.  “Studying is my hobby.  I like doing well. I’m planning on studying for a post graduate degree, and I started psychology at the beginning of this year,” says Britt.  “If I work really hard, I should have it all finished by the end of next year, and then there’s honours.”

Time at home also means she’s resumed her role as big sister to Natalie, Jessica and Jason. “As the eldest, I definitely feel responsible,” says Britt.  “I make sure I do the right thing.  That includes always telling them to do their homework!”

During her years as a GO Scholar, Britt embraced every extra opportunity that came her way. “I went to a CSIRO camp, and also won a Charles Darwin Scholarship to the Asian Science Camp in Bangalore, India in 2016,” she says.  “Without GO’s support and inspiration, I may never have been given those wins to fly and my life might have been quite different. I strongly encourage all GO Scholars to find their dreams and passions and start chasing them.”