Hastings Secondary College year 12 student Chelsea Jewell will use prizemoney from a Zonta achievement award to fund her university studies next year.
The 17-year-old was runner-up in the Zonta International District 24 achievement award for a young indigenous woman.
Chelsea is proud of her Aboriginal heritage and has relatives from the Wamba Wamba tribe from the Murray River and connections to the Bunjalong community from the Grafton area.
"I am proud of my grandmother's work in contributing to archaeology and palaeontology in NSW and her aunts who are accomplished artists and authors," she said.
Part of her nomination for the award was to write an essay on inspirational women in her life.
She chose her mum, Nickie.
"Mum has has overcome some significant struggles throughout her life but has provided for myself and twin sister Jaslen," Chelsea said.
"We have enjoyed a wonderful life.
"She has taught us about having our own strengths and to value education above everything.
"I am very thankful for mum's encouragement to become an independent, educated, empathetic person.
I am very thankful for mum's encouragement to become an independent, educated, empathetic person.Chelsea Jewell
"As sisters, mum has provided us with everything we need to achieve our goals.
"Mum has helped me through everything."
Chelsea is considering a career in intensive care in paramedics with Charles Sturt University or University of Newcastle as her university of choice.
The Hastings Secondary College student is currently studying legal studies and has a strong interest in equality and justice.
Zonta Club of Port Macquarie president Joy Whiting said Chelsea was judged at state level.
“This year there were 27 applicants from schools throughout New South Wales and the ACT,” she said.
Mrs Whiting said Zonta International District 24 (and its member clubs in NSW & ACT) was working to engage in a constructive way with the indigenous community.
“This award is designed to recognise and celebrate the achievements of young women of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background currently enrolled in Year 12 or the TAFE equivalent in 2018.
“Chelsea was an outstanding candidate,” Mrs Whiting said.
“Two other students from schools in the Hastings-Macleay achieved highly commended recognition.”
Nickie said she is very proud of Chelsea.
"She keeps going and doesn't give up," Nickie said. "When I read her essay, I had tears rolling down by cheeks.
"I am proud of both the girls - Chelsea and Jaslen. They are both very accomplished in martial arts and were high achievers in the recent Australian championships."