As an Indigenous woman' Juanita Halden has always felt a connection to country. It was this cultural connection that encouraged the CQUniversity Associate Degree of Engineering student to pursue a career where she could protect Australia's environment and support First Nations Peoples.
"First Nations Peoples have been here for more than 40 000 years. We were the first engineers' the first scientists' the first astronomers - our whole approach is to protect our lands' water and fauna.
"My voice and work will always involve ways to support my People and our indefeasible rights to manage country' lands' seas and waterways in preparation and protection for future generations'" she said.
"My background as an activist has also shaped the way I see a future paved with solutions as opposed to conflict regarding First Nation's land and water rights.
"By studying engineering' I will be positioned to be a part of sustainable solutions that further develops our country in proper ways."
The proud Wiradjuri woman said her engagement with the Mackay community further motivated her to undertake a career where she could create positive change.
"I would like to pay respects and say thank you to the Elders past' present and emerging on the lands I have lived on throughout my time studying with CQUni.
"I also acknowledge my family' Traditional Owners (and their families) and my community who have supported me' shared knowledge and more which has given me the confidence to pursue these goals'" she said.
"When I was CEO at Giay-Gia Kaiyu Official Women's Business Aboriginal Corporation' I was afforded many opportunities thanks to Giya/Gia Traditional Owner families. Due to their relationship and with the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) I was involved in ongoing cultural heritage projects.
"I had many positive and inspiring interactions with TMR staff regarding civil transport projects. From these connections and experiences' I decided to explore civil engineering (transport) as a pathway for new opportunities.
"No matter what direction my life takes' I intend to develop an alternative career path which is inclusive of First Nations Economic Development and empowerment."
To further support her studies' Ms Halden received the Arrow Energy Go Further Indigenous Scholarship which provides recognition and financial assistance to Indigenous students.
"My study journey has been difficult but rewarding. My commitments to my existing business and community concerns have been a juggle but I know the hard work and long haul is worth it.
"Receiving the Arrow Energy Scholarship impacted my life and studies in a very positive way' particularly due to the impacts of lockdowns and restrictions due to COVID-19'" she explained.
"I feel that these opportunities are genuinely there to support our People's study endeavours. For me personally' it builds confidence and helps me remain focused and committed."
The Arrow Energy Go Further Indigenous Scholarship program is the company's partnership with leading Queensland universities and provides scholarships of $5000 for part-time students and $10 000 for full-time students.
The CQUniCares Scholarship program changes lives and CQUni is grateful to partner with organisations like Arrow Energy who share the University's passion for making a difference in the lives of our students' their families and our communities.
Scholarship applications for Term 1' 2022' opened in early October. Visit www.cqu.edu.au/scholarships for further information' including eligibility requirements and upcoming closing dates.