From tiny school to Oxford

Wooroloo Primary students and teachers have good reason to be proud of their school.
Wooroloo Primary students and teachers have good reason to be proud of their school.

It has been a long road to the top for Ms Shearer, a product of the tiny, century-old Wooroloo Primary School, which even now has just 64 students.

She grew up in Wooroloo and clearly remembers her time at the school and the teachers who helped put her on the path to an elite education.

‘I remember Mrs McEwan and Mrs York well,’ she said.

‘It was a small school and we had shared classes, but I loved it there.’

She later moved on to senior education at Perth College from 2001 to 2006, before graduating from the University of WA with a science degree, majoring in genetics and biology.

She also has a diploma in modern languages.

Ms Shearer is now headed for the prestigious Oxford University, in England, where will do a masters degree in global health science and be mentored by some of the world’s leading researchers and public health practitioners.

She is one of just nine outstanding students chosen nationally for the scholarship on the basis of exceptional intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service.

She will join an illustrious group of Rhodes Scholars to have studied at Oxford, including former prime minister Bob Hawke, current Prime Minister Tony Abbott, former WA premier Geoff Gallop and Nobel Prize winners Sir John Eccles and Lord Howard Florey.

Ms Shearer has a passion for community work and sport to match her zeal for health science.

She was Street Team Co-|ordinator for the 2010 Make Poverty History Roadtrip campaign and is now a co-director with the charity Upside ” growing sustainably in Nepal, a not-for-profit organisation working with villages to develop community- owned agricultural businesses across the south Asian country.

She is also a state 400m hurdles and flat performer and has posted personal bests in both disciplines this year.

‘I think athletics gives me the energy to do the other things I want to do in life,’ she said.

Ms Shearer is a strong advocate for community work and has spent the past two years organising weekly soccer matches for Perth Immigration Detention Centre internees.

She also still regularly helps coach athletics at her former high school.

Perth College principal Jenny Ethell described Ms Shearer as an amazing young woman ‘who thoroughly deserves this recognition’.

‘While I thought very highly of Freya while she was a student at Perth College, I now feel very privileged to know her as a young woman of great substance and have great admiration of her and the way she is living her life,’ Ms Ethell said.

Ms Shearer has spent the past year working in the Emergency Department of St John of God Hospital at Murdoch.

‘I am looking forward to studying at Oxford,’ she said.

‘I’m really passionate about global health science and I think the experience of studying at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar is unique.

‘This will fulfil my scholarly aspirations while simultaneously providing the best possible platform to pursue research and professional practice in the field of public health.’

She said she would return to Perth after the UK trip and would likely go back to university to study medicine.

‘I am interested in health at a population level,’ she said.

‘The field of genetics is becoming more important in medicine and I hope to be able combine my undergrad background with the Oxford studies to really be able to make a difference.’