MURDOCH University student Jenna Woods, of Gosnells, is a finalist in the WA Youth Awards' Community Leadership Award.
‘I got the email while I was at uni,’ she said. ‘I started screaming in the computer room.’
The Nyoongar woman turned her life around after dropping out of school, falling pregnant at 16 and experiencing domestic violence, all while caring for her mother, who had breast cancer.
She enrolled in a bridging program to study full-time for a Bachelor of Arts at Murdoch University, where she became ambassador for its Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre.
She juggles this with raising her six-year-old son, and soon will become the Save the Children Youth Leadership Round Table chairwoman.
This year, Ms Woods represented WA at the National Indigenous Youth Parliament and Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s Seed climate change summit, and last year she spoke at the National Youth Affairs Conference on her project exploring young Aboriginal people’s street presence around the Armadale rail line.
Ms Woods’ mother nominated her for this award, and an interview panel then declared her a finalist.
The announcement follows being named the 2014 Naidoc Perth Tertiary Scholar of the Year and a 2013 Murdoch Vice Chancellor’s Commendation for Academic Excellence.
‘I’m happy to be acknowledged for this award because it is my first that’s not university or Aboriginal-specific,’ Ms Woods said.
‘It shows me that what I’m doing isn’t just for a particular community, it impacts everyone.
‘I’m proudest of having been able to speak to those people in positions of influence and power.
‘Politicians often don’t have a good understanding of what’s happening on the ground, so being able to tell stories of people at home means I can be a voice for our mob.’