Student who grew up in USA, plays Women’s Premier League soccer and has sights set on graduation and beyond

3 February 2021

University of Queensland student Nicole Cloutier grew up in the State of Maine in the USA, has a strong American accent and only completed her final year of schooling in Australia.

She is proud of her Iningai and Gubbi Gubbi family connections (on her mother’s side), something she continually explores through her family.

“I gain my Indigenous background from my mother, who moved to America in her 20s before meeting my father,” she says.

Nicole Cloutier pictured during a CareerTrackers Gala Dinner.

Nicole welcomes opportunities to learn about her Aboriginality and follows her Auntie’s passionate community work with interest.

“My Aunty is considered an Elder of the Gubbi Gubbi people and is active in keeping their language alive through a children’s book and visits to Country.”

Nicole is studying an Economics/Arts double major and her involvement with UQ’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Support (ATSIS) Unit has been an important element of her university experience.

She started out attending one of the ATSIS Unit’s InspireU camps for Year 12s and later gave back as a university student ambassador at a subsequent camp.

Nowadays, she is a regular visitor to the ATSIS Unit itself, where she is a fan of the “comfortable study nooks, computer gear and beanbags”.

Enrolment at UQ has also opened up opportunities with CareerTrackers, an organisation which creates internship opportunities for hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students each year.

Since 2018, Nicole has completed three internships with Urban Utilities, which delivers drinking water, recycled water and sewerage services to more than 1.4 million people in South-East Queensland.

“At Urban Utilities, my team and I reported directly to the Chief Finance Officer,” she says.

“As their trust grew, I was given larger projects to complete … some of which involved presentations to the senior leadership team.”

More recently, in early 2021, Nicole has been completing an additional internship with Origin Energy.

“At Origin, the dashboard I created for the Results Delivery Office (RDO) shows how the RDO has improved the investment process at Origin in the past three financial years,” she says.

Nicole is due to graduate in June 2022 and in the meantime juggles her studies with playing soccer in the Brisbane Women’s Premier League.

She hopes her CareerTrackers’ internships with provide a foot in the door if graduate positions become available at either Urban Utilities or Origin Energy.

“CareerTrackers has been a great place to find a community of like-minded Aboriginal students ... I’ve found many student contacts whom I consider to be part of the big, happy CareerTrackers’ family,” Nicole notes.

UQ’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), Professor Bronwyn Fredericks notes that more Indigenous students with a diversity of backgrounds and interests are taking up opportunities to work with organisations and businesses, such as CareerTrackers, who want to work with Indigenous people to bring about change.

“It’s great seeing increasing numbers of students, like Nicole, take up exciting opportunities to gain a broader range of experiences and to assist in their transition into the workforce after graduation,” said Professor Fredericks.

The CareerTrackers vision is to bridge the gap for Indigenous Australians and support the emerging generation to have economic empowerment and equal representation at all levels of industry and community. CareerTrackers interns are working with companies of all sizes across a range of fields including Westpac, Lendlease, Qantas, Telstra, Herbert Smith Freehills, Nous Group, Social Ventures Australia and Sydney Theatre Company.