UQ student keen to inspire future Indigenous veterinarians

19 May 2021

University of Queensland student Alicia Behncke-Layton is well on her way towards qualifying as a veterinarian and she is fully committed to inspiring future generations of young Indigenous people.

“I believe Indigenous youth have a natural affinity with animals so working as a vet will give me a great chance to positively influence some of them to consider careers relating to animal care or conservation,” she says.

“That’s why I’m already developing a network of Indigenous veterinarians to encourage this outreach role across Australia.

“There’s already an association of Indigenous doctors so the time is ripe for a similar network of veterinarians.”

Alicia is a proud Gumbaynggirr woman with family ties to the Grafton/Kangaroo Creek area of NSW, although she now resides in the Lockyer area.

She says her mum’s lifetime commitment as an Indigenous activist has influenced her interest in giving back and making a difference to young people.

Alicia’s first foray into higher education, in her late teens, at a different institution, resulted in discontinuation of her initial media and law studies, due to a lack of true passion for those subjects.

Despite this, she has earned over a decade of success as a manager in the entertainment and hospitality sector.

“Coping with sometimes difficult situations in entertainment and hospitality has helped build my knowledge of the licensing and legal systems, along with my strength of character and resilience,” she says.

When Alicia began rethinking her career path and potential for study as a mature-age student, she did not have far to look for inspiration.

“My mum has always had horses and I’ve always grown up around them,” she says.

“I’m looking forward to focusing on horses and other large animals as I develop my career as a vet.

“The high GPA and ATAR requirements of vet studies meant I had to do intensive Maths B study before enrolling in 12 months of a Veterinary Technology program before progressing to the Vet Science Honours program at UQ Gatton.

“I’ve appreciated access to tutoring via UQ’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (ATSIS) Unit in my third year and current year of my program,” Alicia says. "I've also been supported by the RN Hammon scholarship."