Four inspirational young women have been selected as finalists for the 2015 Harvey Norman's Young Woman of the year.
This Award shines the spotlight on women 18-30 years of age who have excelled in their career, studies or community-related efforts.
Read about each of the finalists below.
Annabelle is joint founder of the School for Life Foundation (SFLF), which focuses on delivering high quality education in rural Uganda. The Foundation helps build productive and sustainable communities through education. The model is based on community ownership and empowerment, and is designed to be replicated across the developing world.
The School for Life Foundation provides the support students need, including health care, clean water, uniforms and three meals a day. Annabelle works tirelessly to ensure that SFLF continues to grow. Her energy and enthusiasm has enabled her to commence plans for the construction of two new schools in 2015, which will educate 1600 students.
Together with co-founder David Everett, Annabelle has transformed a vision into an organisation that now employs more than 50 people, educates hundreds of children and adults and provides health care and access to clean water for more than 1000 people.
Annabelle manages the Australian operations of the Foundation, overseeing staff, developing donor relationships and organising fundraising, marketing, media and events. In the past four years she has raised over two million dollars.
Annabelle grew up on a sheep and cattle farm in the Southern Highlands. She excelled at school and moved to Sydney for university. In 2007, at the age of 21, Annabelle spent 3 months volunteering in Kenya and Uganda. Her time with women's organisations, street children, medical camps and orphanages motivated Annabelle to work to help provide education for those in need. She returned numerous times and in November 2008 to March 2009. Her experience led her to found School for Life Foundation (SFLF) with David Everett in 2008.
Annabelle channelled her passion and legal experience to establish the international organisation, negotiating with the Ugandan government, local officials and village elders, assisting with recruitment of local teachers and building relationships in Australia. Annabelle worked as a nanny to support herself while the organisation and first school in Katuuso was established.
Jasmin is an academically gifted young 19 year old Aboriginal woman. Growing up in the small, remote and highly disadvantaged Aboriginal community of Brewarrina, West New South Wales, her aspiration in life is to improve Aboriginal education and health.
Currently working full-time as a Trainee Aboriginal Environmental Health Officer at the Cowra Council, Jasmin is a leader in both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. She has mediated discussions between the Cowra Council and Aboriginal Land Council and highlights environmental health concerns of the Aboriginal reserve. Jasmin also mentors and supports other trainees through their university studies.
Jasmin's drive to succeed led her to at the decision to leave high school at just 15 in favour of studying business at Tafe, Western Dubbo. Completing a Certificate II and III, all while working part time to support herself, at just 17 Jasmin gained entrance to university.
Currently studying a Bachelor of Natural Science at the University of Western Sydney, Jasmine is going from strength-to-strength. During 2014, Jasmin was selected as one of 40 of Australia's highest achieving undergraduate students, as part of the New Colombo Plan, she completed five months of study at one of Asia's highest ranked science universities. While continuing her degree in Natural Sciences at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Jasmin gained the experience of living and studying in a foreign country which taught her how to adapt to new learning environments and diverse cultures.
It was in Hong Kong that Jasmin applied to study medicine. Testament to her dedication to her studies, she has been accepted to undertake a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery beginning in February 2015. She plans to study medicine full time while finishing her Bachelor of Natural Sciences part time.
Jasmin's impressive journey over the past four years is due to a fierce determination to forge an education and career path to improve the health of her local community. She has always wanted to work as a doctor her home town of Brewarrina with the ambition to improve Aboriginal health, a significant problem in the area. She wishes to use her experiences to inspire Aboriginal children, and intends to return to her former school in Brewarrina to assist to promote the importance of education.
Jessica is a registered nurse who has dedicated her life to improving the lives of others. Her charitable work is focused on Australia's rural healthcare system and on supporting the families of children with disabilities.
Completing her Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Wollongong in 2009, Jessica worked as a Registered Nurse at St George Hospital for two years.
Jessica draws on both her personal life experience and her experience as a surgical nurse to volunteer extensively with families of children with disability. Jessica's older brother Jared has profound cerebral palsy and in 2011 Jessica suffered a severe snowboarding accident which caused ongoing injury to her spine, pelvis and hip. Unable to work as a nurse since then, Jessica has focused all her efforts on charitable work.
Jessica's volunteer and fundraising work include activities with NSW Cancer Council, Variety, Catholic Care, Wollongong Hospital, Highlights for Hope, the Randall Family, Kids Fund, the Disability Trust and the Para Meadows Foundation. Combined funds raised from these activities exceed $290,000. As part of her campaign in the Miss World Australia pageant, Jessica mobilised her local community and held many fundraising activities for the Lilla Foundation. The Foundation supports indigenous communities and improves living conditions in remote areas of the Northern Territory through education and facilities. Jessica placed second in the Beauty with a Purpose category of the national Miss World pageant.
Jessica is a long-time member of Junior Chamber International, a global network of organisations that seek to improve local communities through active citizenship. Since 2013 Jessica has served on the board for the Illawarra chapter, leading the group to raise over $23,000 in donations to numerous local projects and organisations. She is now Chapter President.
In recognition of her community work, Jessica was recently appointed an ambassador of the Australians for Australia Foundation.
Once more recovered from her injuries, Jessica wants to establish her own not-for-profit organisation to meet the needs of siblings of children with disability in her community.
Grace is a PhD student dedicated to solving problems associated with bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. She has volunteered with the Ingham Institute's Antibiotic Resistance and Mobile Elements Group (ARMEG) since 2012. As part of her role she conducts important, life-saving work to investigate multi-resistant bacteria with the ultimate aim to eradicate the superbug 'Golden Staph'. Antibiotic resistance is an important health issue impacting greater Western Sydney in NSW and Australia at large. The World Health Organisation cites it as one of the greatest threats to human health today.
Grace has presented her research findings on both a local and international level and has received the Presentation and Poster Award at the UWS Molecular Medicine Research Group Annual Meeting in 2013 and 2014.
At 23, Grace goes over and above the call of duty in her studies, work and volunteer commitments. During weekdays she does her research and demonstrates practical classes to undergraduate students and on the weekend she works in another job to support herself. Grace does further research work in the evening if required and is a regular volunteer with functions and fundraising events at the Ingham Institute.
Despite her full workload, Grace also volunteers with her local Autism and Advisory Support Service in Liverpool, another health issue close to her heart.