NAIDOC Week: Congratulations to our 2022 Indigenous Scholars

This NAIDOC Week, we are delighted to announce four new recipients of the CEW and Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women leaders in Australia.

The recipients of this years’ scholarships are women leaders in organisations with the ability to create significant social impact. They will study at Harvard to further develop their leadership skills and deepen their ability to create positive change in the community.

The 2022 recipients are:

  • Cassandra Baker – Cassandra is a Pitta-Pitta woman and State Manager, Goodstart Early Learning
  • Jaymee Beveridge – Jaymee is a Bindal woman and Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy, at the University of Wollongong
  • Sara Stuart – Sara is a Kamilaroi woman and Director, Aboriginal Economic Development, at the Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions
  • Famey WIlliams – Famey is a Githabul woman and Director, Housing and Client Services, at the Aboriginal Housing Office

Cassandra Baker said the knowledge and experience gained by the Harvard course will enable her to further support her community and professional and cultural networks.

“Roberta assisted through her advocacy for First Nations people, especially in promoting the importance of the education of women. To be associated with a great such as her is an absolute honour, but it also carries the responsibility of giving back – and I will be seizing every opportunity to do so.”

Jaymee Beveridge said she was motivated to apply this year after thinking about the impact that winning the scholarship would have on her children, other Aboriginal women, and the Indigenous student and alumni cohort at the University of Wollongong.

“Everyone who knows me, knows I don’t love being in the spotlight – I prefer being behind the scenes. [But] I saw this as an opportunity to show mob that even an Indigenous girl from social housing, born to a single teenage mum and someone who had dealt with adversity and traumatic life events can win deadly scholarships that send her to Harvard!”

Famey Williams will use her scholarship to study a course in crisis leadership.

“Many of the crisis management approaches out there are geared towards mainstream communities. The communities I am part of have unique needs and strengths, and I want to see what can be developed to better cater to them into the future. I love learning and when I came across this course, I knew in my gut that the timing was right for me.”

Aurora Education Foundation Chief Executive Officer Leila Smith said “Cassandra, Jaymee, Sara, and Famey are First Nations leaders who are innovative, adaptive and disruptive, just as Roberta Sykes was herself. I am proud to support these candidates with a Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation and Chief Executive Women Scholarship. Their upcoming experience at Harvard will strengthen their knowledge, networks, and their resilience to keep working for a future where First Nations families, communities, and professionals thrive.”

CEW Scholarships Chair Deidre Wilmott said that this year’s scholarship attracted a high calibre of women leaders. “On behalf of CEW members, I’d like to congratulate Cassandra, Jaymee, Sara and Famey – we look forward to seeing the impact of this scholarship on your leadership journey.”

The scholarship was established to honour Roberta Sykes, a pioneering leader who became the first Black Australian to graduate from an American university when she graduated from Harvard in 1984. To be a Roberta Sykes Scholar women must reflect the strong community and activist values Roberta herself embodied.