A self-professed country kid from Cooma in the Snowy Monaro, Brianna Kerr is not afraid of hard work, and it shows.
At only 25 years of age, she already has some incredible achievements under her belt.
Brianna wholeheartedly believes that ‘change can occur when you invest in a person who might be limited in resources but certainly not in passion,’ and it shows not just in her words, but in her actions.
Audi Foundation – CEF Young Achiever of the Year 2021:
CEF Snowy Monaro, NSW
2015 – 2018
University of New South Wales
Bachelor of International Studies/Bachelor of Media
NOT AFRAID OF HARD WORK
Growing up in Cooma, Brianna always really enjoyed the academic side of school despite ‘being a little bit of a troublemaker in my younger years,’ she muses.
Like many of the youth supported by CEF, she was the first in her family to go to university and says proudly, her sister followed in her footsteps not long after.
But, it wasn’t straight to university after finishing at Monaro High School for Brianna – she took a gap year.
Not to travel or take a break from the books, but to work and save enough money to head to Sydney to study.
She worked three jobs and seven days a week during this time to make her dream come true – Snowy Hydro during the day, Roses Restaurant in the evenings and Birdsnest clothing store on the weekends.
Looking back I think moving to Sydney at the beginning of 2015 was one of my proudest moments.
WORDS OF WISDOM
Brianna feels very humbled to receive the Audi Foundation – CEF Young Achiever Award for 2021.
She remembers the support, encouragement and ‘great big congratulatory hugs’ from the now Chair of Country Education Foundation of Snowy Monaro, Amanda Steinke.
She says: “I was so grateful that the committee believed in me and so lucky that a foundation like this existed.”
She wants young rural and regional students to know that they can achieve anything they set their mind to. And she knows from experience that this isn’t easy, the road may not be straight forward, and it definitely will be hard, but that it is worth it.
There are so many country kids out there kicking goals and contributing to their communities in lots of difference ways.
When it comes to leaving home, she encourages country youth to ‘reach out to those in your community that have done it before you.’
When she was headed to the University of New South Wales (UNSW), she messaged and spoke to people from Cooma who were already there. Not only did it give her the ‘inside scoop’ and help her find a place to live, but these connections always made home feel a little closer, which is so important when you are moving away from all you know.
And when asked about mentors, she says her PDHPE teacher, Alicia Bolton from Monaro High School, was very influential in her life.
‘She embodies what it means to be a great educator, a community leader and a champion of others,’ says Brianna.
And it is very clear that these traits affected Brianna – this is the kind person she is already.
Connecting with others in the network creates opportunities for collaboration and experience sharing.
A TOP TIER RESUME
During her studies at UNSW she worked for a number of overseas organisations in places like India, Indonesia and Malawi. She co-designed global internship courses for students in Australia and delivered free workshops on ethical volunteering.
In 2018, during the final year of her degree she co-founded Kua, a social enterprise that specialises in world positive coffee. 100% of the profits go to environmental initiatives in Uganda, where the coffee is grown.
Because of Brianna’s passion and dedication, she has a resume that many people twice her age would envy.
- Currently consults for The World Bank
- Travelled to Berlin in 2019 to represent Australia at the Global Solutions Summit as a G20 Young Global Changer and was invited back in 2020 as an Ambassador
- In 2020, was awarded one of fifteen national Westpac Future Leaders scholarships to study her Master of Human Rights at the University of Sydney
The latter two ‘were really big fish out of water moments,’ she explains. And this is yet another example of her humility.
While she now resides in Sydney, she will always feel strongly connected to the Monaro. As she said, she is a country girl after all. Going back to Cooma when she can means seeing her partner’s family, and like any daughter who has a special relationship with her mother, she says, ‘visiting Mum and our dog Bear is as good as it gets.’
The mountains, the bush, it will always be home.
Brianna has almost finished her Masters and is now planning for what comes next.
The last two years have been very disrupted and difficult. With normality on the horizon, she is excited to be able to focus solely on growing Kua over the next couple of years, the project she is so very passionate about that is doing so much good.
All that Brianna does is about helping individuals to make the most of their potential. About enabling communities to be connected; to grow and prosper. And this core belief is no doubt the reason for her amazing accomplishments.
But, with gratitude and that now very familiar humility she says, ‘I couldn’t have done it without CEF Snowy Monaro.’