Shaarn Hayward is passionate about working to help young Indigenous people to achieve their goals.
“I leave work everyday knowing that I’ve done good and I’ve been able to help people,” she said.
Shaarn’s work in the community has resulted in her being named a finalist for the Aboriginal Education Council Aboriginal Education Award at the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards.
She was approached by the organisers of the awards asked if they could nominate her.
“It was unexpected but nice to be recognise,” Shaarn said.
The 27-year-old and resident of Bonny Hills is a proud Wiradjuri woman and the Indigenous Academic Success coordinator at Charles Sturt University.
She is responsible for the university's Indigenous tutoring program with more than 500 Indigenous students enrolled.
In the future Shaarn would like to see a higher retention rate for Indigenous students and more Aboriginal people accessing higher education and finishing high school.
“I think Indigenous students face circumstances which are quite different and associated with their Indigenous background, which makes it harder for students to finish high school and higher education,” she said.
Through different programs at CSU Shaarn works to engage, encourage and support Indigenous students.
“They’re designed to specifically support Indigenous students around barriers so that they’re given the skills and the tools to help them succeed just like any other student would,” she said.
Shaarn said a barrier for Indigenous students in completing education is a lack of confidence.
“Many of our students don’t believe they are smart enough,” she said.
“I myself didn’t think I was smart enough for my studies.”
Shaarn said it’s important to empower the students so they can realise their full potential.
Shaarn is also a volunteer on the Luminosity Youth Summit Committee to enhance the Indigenous voice.
In the past Shaarn has also been a UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador, advocating and educating on the rights of children.
The purpose of the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards is to acknowledge, encourage and most importantly promote the positive achievements of all young people up to and including 29 years.
The ceremony of the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards is on in April.
For more information about the awards please visit awardsaustralia.com/young-achiever-awards/nsw/current-finalists/