Bold and vivacious, Alyza Yeatman embodies the concept of walking in two worlds.
Although her family tree has deep roots in Yarrabah and Cape York, she branched further afield during her time with Cape York Leaders Program.
Alyza found herself on the Gold Coast to pursue tertiary education with Bond University. Her longstanding vision of attaining a university degree was nurtured and supported by one of her greatest sources of inspiration: her dad, Leon. “I’ve always looked up to my dad. His life story has always inspired me. He went out of his way to move away from home and study at UQ. His story keeps me grounded
and grateful for the opportunities that I have. I’ve never wanted to take it for granted.”
Alyza’s achievement of studying, and now completing a degree, are a shining defiance of the odds stacked against people from remote Indigenous communities, where educational opportunities are limited. The 2021 Census recorded that only 2.6% of adults in her home town had achieved a bachelor’s degree level or higher. In contrast, a significant 38.1 per cent of adults in Brisbane had reached the same level of educational achievement.
During her early childhood years, Alyza attended schools in remote far north Queensland that were small in size and limited in resources. With some encouragement from her parents, Alyza was first introduced to the Cape York Leaders Program in late primary school.
“My mum and dad, during the school holidays, asked me, ‘Do you want to go to boarding school?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it, I’ll give it a go,’” she said with a laugh.
With the support of a CYLP secondary scholarship, Alyza began boarding at Clayfield College, Brisbane.
“Cape York Leaders Program were there from the beginning of my secondary education. I look the CYLP team as family at this point, because they’ve been a part of my life for so long. Knowing CYLP was always there has helped over the last couple of years. If at any point I can give it back, I will.”
I saw a business degree as an opportunity to get further in the workforce.”
During her senior years at school, Alyza studied a Diploma of Business. As she learnt the ins and outs of business in the classroom, she was already building a strong foundation for her next chapter – tertiary education at Bond University.
“I saw a business degree as an opportunity to get further in the workforce. In this generation, it’s hard to get a job without the right skills. That was a motivation to having my degree.”
To fast track her degree, Alyza studied on an increased workload, of three semesters per year.
During her studies, Alyza often called her favourite people – her parents.
“I always treat my parents like they’re the world, because they are,” she said.
In her third year of studying her accelerated degree, Alyza felt her educational performance slip.
“There was a point where I felt I didn’t want to be here. I slipped to a point where I didn’t want to study. I remember having a yarn with my dad and he told me, ‘You made these choices, and you should be proud of that. That’s something you should own.’ And he was right. My parents didn’t make me do anything. I got here on my own, and I’m proud of that. “It made me grow as a person from that point on. Before that, going to classes felt like a chore. But after that conversation, life just got easier.”
With her eyes set to the horizon, and a Bachelor of Business now under her belt, Alyza hopes to be a business owner one day, and give back to those that helped her along the way.
“I want to jumpstart my career. I want to start gaining the skills to run a business. I think I’m going to end up in an area where I have an engaging environment. I love to make people's days more fun,” she said.
Find out more about the Cape York Leaders Program