In the heart of Yarrabah, Charanti Andrews discovered a burning passion. It wasn’t sparked through an inspiring book or in the office of a career counsellor, but instead in the familiar, comforting corners of her own home.
Charanti’s family is incredibly close, and her grandfather was always someone she deeply admired. When he suffered a stroke in 2019, Charanti was there throughout his rehabilitation as a carer, helping him every step of the way. Once her grandfather got back on his feet, Charanti wanted to focus on her two younger nephews, who each face unique challenges; both were diagnosed with ADHD and one with autism. She spent a lot of time with her nephews, helping them navigate the world and their own personal challenges. Through caring for her grandfather and understanding her nephews’ needs, her purpose became clear: to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare industry and transform lives with her compassionate nature.
Charanti was fortunate to have supportive parents who taught her the value of hard work and resilience. Their roles as leaders in their community served as a source of inspiration – her mum is the CEO of the local health service, and her dad is the Mayor of Yarrabah. With their encouragement, Charanti applied and was accepted into the Cape York Leaders Program, which offers scholarships to Indigenous students to attend the best boarding high schools in Queensland.
“When I first started the scholarship, I was so quiet; I wouldn’t talk to anyone. Mum and Dad are leaders in their community. I feel like I look up to them and want to follow in their footsteps,” Charanti says.
Charanti first ventured out of her comfort zone when she started boarding school at The Cathedral School in Townsville. For someone who had spent her whole life in Yarrabah, a quiet, little community in Far North Queensland, this was a far cry away from home. But Charanti was ready to tackle whatever challenges lay ahead. In her new school, she found herself stepping up to take on leadership roles that she once would have shied away from.
“I put my hand up to be on the Indigenous Student Council at school, stepping up and being a leader. We organised things like NAIDOC week and other activities,” she says.
The Leaders Program also allowed Charanti to discover potential career pathways. With the help of her Student Support Officer, she participated in the University of Queensland’s Health Science Camp – a week-long university experience to help Year 11 and 12 students explore tertiary study options in health sciences.
Her passion for health sciences was already evident, but the chance to delve into various disciplines, including occupational therapy, nursing, dentistry, psychology, midwifery, and pathology provided her with the clarity she needed.
“I liked being surrounded by other Indigenous kids who have a passion for health, and I really enjoyed visiting the Occupational Therapy Rehabilitation Centre,” Charanti says. “I love interacting with people with sensory disabilities. It just makes me happy.”
CYLP Scholarship Manager, Krista Christensen said, “It’s inspiring to see young individuals like Charanti transform their passion into purpose. She’s come a long way since starting the program from a relatively shy student to an emerging community leader. We can’t wait to see what impact she has in the healthcare industry”.
Charanti has now completed Year 12 and has started turning her dream into a reality by enrolling in a Bachelor of Public Health at The Queensland University of Technology. “I’m enjoying every bit of my degree,” she says. “I love that it’s so broad and that there are multiple career areas I could go into”.
Charanti is still exploring what area of Public Health she would like to focus on, but one thing’s for sure: she’s adamant on taking her skills back to her home community to give back as much as she can.