12 May 2022

Sharna Motlap has always been interested in creating and implementing evidence-based programs specifically tailored to Indigenous communities. 

Her passion for nutrition began when she significantly improved her own quality of life with dietary interventions. Sharna then enrolled in a Bachelor of Nutrition at Torrens University and combined work and study to greatly influence her career aspirations.

“My employment with an Aboriginal health clinic working in community engagement has highlighted health inequities and been a driving influence on my decision to contribute to improving the health outcomes of Indigenous Australians.”

Sharna decided to apply for the NHMRC Indigenous intern program while on a swelteringly hot bus trip from Katherine to Darwin, surrounded by other health students. The topic of career aspirations was discussed and a student who had previously completed the internship recommended that Sharna apply. A few months later Sharna was able to excitedly share a screenshot of her acceptance email with that same group of supportive students. Sharna’s project was part of an International Impact Assessment where she performed data analysis of funding of international collaborations over the past decade. Sharna explained that the benefits of her internship were multifactorial.

“In the beginning, I truly felt as if I had bitten off more than I could chew – however after a few crash courses in data manipulation and lots of support I gained an entirely new set of skills – and also enjoyed connecting with like-minded people.”

Sharna looks forward to graduating from her undergraduate degree this year and then starting her postgraduate studies, while continuing to work within the local Indigenous community. She explains that she thoroughly enjoyed her internship at NHMRC.

“My favourite aspect of the internship was how different it was from my previous work and study experiences, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to other Indigenous students.”