A strong desire to make a difference has seen Kyly Mills begin a promising career in health earlier than most.
The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) third year Bachelor of Health Sciences student said a desire to improve the health of all Australians, despite their background, led her to pursue a career in the public health sector, with a particular emphasis on Indigenous women.
Ms Mills, who is a Kamilaroi woman whose family originated in the Moree area, has just completed a summer vacation placement as research assistant for Professor Bronwyn Fredericks from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) after being awarded a Vacation Research Experience Scholarship.
Ms Mills' work in the area of Indigenous health has also earned her an Indigenous cadetship with Queensland Health.
"The experience has made all the difference to my studies and it's something that I have become even more aware of since starting back at uni this year," she said.
"The biggest outcome working with Professor Fredericks was helping to organise the North Brisbane Indigenous Women's Wellness Summit as well as co-authoring a number of papers and articles.
"The scholarship initially covered 180 hours of work as a research assistant, but I managed to complete that fairly quickly and have since been employed in the role.
"To be an undergrad and have my name on so many papers already has been such an achievement."
Ms Mills said the work she has completed since being awarded the scholarship and the subsequent Indigenous internship has been an "amazing learning curve" which has helped her to focus on her career aspirations.
"It sounds like a cliché, but everything really has fallen into place since I got the scholarship," she said.
"My key focus is in health from a humanitarian perspective. I just don't find it acceptable for anyone to be living in third world conditions with a third-world health status, particularly in a developed country like Australia.
"Giving up my summer holidays to do this work, which has such a strong focus on Indigenous women, has really opened my mind to what needs to be done and made me such a better person.
"It's a big task, but something I'm really looking forward to working on."
Senior Lecturer of QUT's Oodgeroo Unit, Dr Odette Best, said Ms Mills had the potential to impact on the health of Indigenous Australians.
"Within her second year of studies Kyly demonstrated superior knowledge and work output," Dr Best said.
"Her hard work and dedication was acknowledged in February this year when Kyly was awarded the discipline's top award, for excellence in women's health."