It’s no overstatement to say that every day is a great day for GO alumnus Bronte Charles.  “I‘m just so happy,” says Bronte about life as a second year uni student. “I’m studying a marketing and media degree at Macquarie University, and I love it. Story telling is such a big part of Indigenous culture and the media subjects are so me!”

20-year-old Bronte is in her element. Living on campus, she’s an active member of the Indigenous student body. “Covid’s been a bit tough, but I try to look on the bright side,” she says. “We’ve organised cultural activities like painting and weaving, and we just recorded a ‘you can’t ask that’ video. We answered all sorts of questions from students about culture and being Indigenous that we then shared across the university network.”

Bronte Charles is a proud Bunjalug woman, whose people come from the southern Queensland town of Beaudesert. Life was tough going at times. “It’s where I lived with my mum when I was younger, and town was full of relatives. I saw my mum struggle with money, and sometimes a place to live. But mostly, I saw my mum as the most intelligent woman in the world, as a superhero and as a miracle worker, who hadn’t had the right opportunities in life.

“The first time I remember feeling different was in primary school.  One of my teachers singled me out in front of the whole class and asked me if my mum could afford $15 for an excursion.  After that day I felt a bit isolated from my friends, and a bit unworthy of going on that trip,” explains Bronte. “That memory is one that’s stuck with me. I use it now to motivate me to work hard and make the most of every opportunity I have.”

When Bronte was 13, she moved to Sydney to live with her dad Andrew and go to a better school. “It was a big adjustment,” says Bronte. “I didn’t see Mum much and being away from Country was a strain. Dad and I didn’t really get on at first, but he believed in my potential. He would tell me that education is power, and knowledge is freedom, and he was right. It is all that and more”

In 2017, Bronte started Year 11 as a GO Scholar at Pymble Ladies College. “My first day as a PLC girl was truly daunting. I was out of my depth, and had imposter syndrome, I think,” says Bronte.  “At the same time, I knew no one in my life ever had an opportunity like this.  It was an insane feeling. Dad told me that it didn’t matter how I got to Pymble, it just mattered that I was there and doing just as well as the other girls.”

Bronte excelled during her two years at PLC.  She also threw herself into everything the GO Foundation had to offer her. Mentoring days were a highlight.  As Bronte explains, “Until GO, I had never met Indigenous people who’ve succeeded like Adam (Goodes) and Michael (O’Loughlin).  They are energy lifters and two of my main motivators. Now, I would describe them as family.  My relationship with them is very special.”

Right beside her at GO events has been her dad, Andrew. “GO quickly became such an important part of our lives and it’s brought Dad and me so close,” she explains. “Even though Dad’s not Indigenous, he’s thrown his heart and soul into being on this cultural journey with me. I was learning about me, and he was learning about me. GO’s made me appreciate my culture and understand that my culture is also my superpower.”

On Bronte’s list of ambitions after university is a career at SBS or the ABC to increase Indigenous voices and media content. “There are so many platforms out there for us to tell our stories,” she says. “I want to give back to my community, I want the success of Aboriginal people to be seen as normal, not one in a million. I want to see my sisters and my little brother grow up with hope and a believe that they can do anything.  I want them to be able to think that if Bronte can do it, so can I.”

And she will.