“I always wanted to be a neurosurgeon, and I did all those subjects for my HSC, but connecting more to my Indigenous culture has shifted my thinking,” says Zenae Powell, a 2020 graduate of Cumberland High School in western Sydney. “I would like to study Indigenous health, both here and overseas in North America, to learn traditional healings and medicine, and modern medicine as well. I’ve never left Australia, but I know now it’s what I want to do.”

A GO Scholar since 2019, Zenae feels the Foundation perfectly suits to her ambition to walk in two worlds. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of GO,” she says. “Meeting Adam and Michael was a bit intimidating at first, but everyone is so nice and kind. It’s such a lovely environment and I so enjoy going to all the events with all the different people and culture.

“I plan on starting small with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University, then travelling overseas to study in Canada or the US. When I come back home, I want to work in public health to put my learnings to work.

“I feel our culture isn’t as accepted and we still have a long way to go.  I feel the first step is health.  Incorporating culture and tradition into health is a way of encouraging young people and bringing Indigenous people together,” she says. “I’ve done healings and teachings with my mum and my aunties in Bathurst, women’s business such as smoking ceremonies and traditional healings to get rid of bad spirits. It’s amazing to be part of it.”

Zenae is planning to start an internship with the NDIS through CareerTrackers soon, while she waits for university to start, and maybe travel out Dubbo way to meet some of her country cousins. “My mum’s home community is Trangie, and I have learnt some of my own Wiradjuri language. It’s a different atmosphere and experience in the country and I feel ‘whole’ and connected out there,” says Zenae.  “I’d like to pass that love of country onto my younger brother and sister. There’s always a little bit missing in the city. It’s so important to be learning about culture, so we don’t ever lose that sense of belonging.”