Class of 1989
Head of Department Indigenous Education, Beenleigh & Loganlea State High Schools.
Inspired by the roots of her origin, Candace is making leaps and bounds in her local community to spread the word on Indigenous culture, performing arts and the importance of Indigenous education amongst young people.
Starting at John Paul College in 1985 as a young Aboriginal woman and a traditional owner of the Yugambeh language region, Candace and her brother were the first Indigenous students to enrol at the College. Her parents were a big influence in bringing Aboriginal culture to JPC, most notably initiating a dedicated three-day art exhibition in 1988 and 1989 with a specific focus on Aboriginal art and crafts.
Thrusting herself into the spotlight, Candace participated in a variety of performing arts activities including the Senior Concert Band for which she was selected at the young age of 13. Her fondest memories of JPC include being the piano accompanist at all the school assemblies and marching around the oval in white uniforms in preparation for Expo ’88—a memory she will never forget.
She distinctly remembers the sense of community which JPC embodied, and the personal connection the teachers had with each student, including knowing their strengths, weaknesses and interests. ‘JPC allowed me to be me, particularly in the performing arts. I was encouraged to do everything that made me good at the activities I loved to do’ says Candace.
Marching Band Captain and Drum Major were amongst the many prestigious titles she held in her senior year. Despite being given a Prefect badge by JPC Principal Mr Cec Munns on her last week of Year Twelve, she often reflects and still preaches ‘it doesn’t matter when you become a leader, what matters is that you recognise when you can step up to be a leader.‘
Guided by the strength of her JPC experience and her Yugambeh roots, Candace followed her dreams and undertook a Bachelor of Arts (Music), and a Graduate Diploma in Education at the Queensland University of Technology.
During her 24 years as a music teacher, she has held the position of Director of Music at Knox Grammar School and has achieved the Aggregate Award for Junior Choirs at the Gold Coast Eisteddfod several times. Cementing her roots back in Brisbane, her current role as Head of Department Indigenous Education – Beenleigh & Loganlea State High Schools keeps her very busy.
Numerous titles and accomplishments have been awarded to Candace during her career to date. She is a Yugambeh yarabilgingan (song woman), author of Yugambeh Talga: Music Traditions of the Yugambeh People and founder and director of the Yugambeh Youth Choir. She was also the 2016 Winner of the Queensland Reconciliation Award – Communities Division, the 2017 Winner of the Gold Coast NAIDOC Awards – Community Volunteer and in 2018 was a baton bearer for the 2018 Queen’s Baton Relay.
To this day, Candace continues to embody and teach the ethics and values she learnt here at JPC to her current students. Returning to the College as a guest of honour for International Women’s Day celebrations in March 2019, Candace will always take the time to give back to the community which gave so much to her.
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