Meet Brittney: a Noongar woman from WA

A Noongar Woman from Western Australia, Brittney Andrews is a Bachelor of Science student, Student Outreach Intern at the University’s Indigenous institute Murrup Barak, go-getter and future paediatrician.

“I’ve got a whole life plan,” laughs Brittney. “Once I complete my Bachelor of Science majoring in Physiology, I want to complete the Master of Public Health and Doctor of Medicine at Melbourne. I’d like to move on to specialise in paediatric medicine.”

“Then, I want to go back home and motivate other people to go to university.”

Brittney’s road to Melbourne

While Brittney feels most at home on Country, returning each time she visits Western Australia, she spent much of her childhood moving around the state with her family.

It wasn’t until Brittney joined the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation’s, Follow the Dream program in high school that her path to university began.

“I’m the first person in my family to graduate from high school. I didn’t really have any role models who could tell me about going to university. I became a member of the Follow the Dream program, which is a program for aspiring Indigenous students. I loved it. That was the only way that I found out about the possibility of me going to university,” explains Brittney.

In Year 12 Brittney became a mentor for the Follow the Dream program at her high school. Still in touch with many of the students she mentored, Brittney continues to help them on their journey to uni.

Small steps with a big impact

After her first experience as a mentor for the Follow the Dream program, giving back became a key theme running through every aspect of Brittney’s approach to life. Whenever presented with the opportunity, Brittney has taken on the responsibility of mentor and volunteer to help others reach their own goals.

It’s no surprise that each time Brittney attended a program that pushed her toward her own goal to study medicine, that she quickly joined again as a mentor.

In Year 10, Brittney attended her first academic school camps outside of Western Australia, the CSIRO’s, Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS). An experience that saw her jump at the chance to attend several camps on campus at the University of Melbourne too.

“I loved the experience at ASSETS. It opened my eyes to the idea of moving and going to uni,” recalls Brittney.

“I started mentoring on camps because when I was in high-school I felt those people were super cool. They were the people that I looked up to and thought – wow that’s what a uni student is like. I wanted to give back and be that person for other people.”

Brittney has now mentored for the Victorian Indigenous Engineering Winter School, RISE: Residential Indigenous Science Experience and the Melbourne Experience an interstate open day run by Murrup Barak.

Building lasting connections

Brittney hasn’t had to wait long to feel the impact that she is making on the University community. As a mentor for first year students through the Indigenous Institute, Murrup Barak, she is already watching her mentees grow.

“I was a mentor last year, my second year at university, in a program run by Murrup Barak that provides mentors and ambassadors to support first-year indigenous students,” says Brittney.

“I had a little group of seven mentees. I met with them every fortnight for coffee. I would hang out with them and check if they were ok. We had study nights together, went out for dinner. They were kind of my group to look after for the year. I recently found out that one of them has joined the program as a mentor now too. She said I was the one who inspired her, which is very sweet.”

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