Top award winner plans to support regional communities

07 February 2020

Winning an award was never the motivation for the hard work Ellen Engelke put in over her final year of school. 

The Iona Presentation College graduate was humbled when announced as the winner of the 2019 General Exhibition ATSI Award, which is awarded each year by the School Curriculum and Standards Authority to the eligible Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student who achieves the highest ATAR score. 

“I dedicate it [the Award] to the sacrifices of my grandparents and parents, which resulted in me being able to have the choices I’m blessed to have had,” she said. 

Ellen Engelke with her parents, Catherine and Jim

“The work was me aiming to fully utilise the opportunity and privilege of accessing a quality education, a basic human right which very few have access to yet is so often taken for granted.” 

Ellen grew up in Kununurra and began her secondary education at East Kimberly College. 

She completed years 8 to 12 at Iona as a boarder but always maintained a close connection with her family and culture. 

“My language group is Kija which is based in the East Kimberly, Halls Creek and Warmun area . . . I have continued to have a strong link to my indigenous identity and heritage,” Ellen said. 

“My family is proud, however all they wanted was my best effort, whatever that was.” 

Ellen will study at Curtin University this year and sees herself working in the medical field in the future. 

“The ultimate goal is to return rural and use the opportunities and knowledge I’ve gained to give back to my community and those less fortunate then myself,” she said. 

Seventeen 17 CEWA students were recognised with School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) General Exhibition, Subject Exhibition and VET (Vocational Education and Training) Exhibition awards in 2019. 

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