Marine Biologist Madeina David is using her degree to connect modern science with traditional land and sea management on her island home of Iama (Yam) in the Torres Strait.

The 23-year-old marine biology graduate undertook a cadetship with the Torres Strait Regional Authority and later joined the TSRA Land and Sea Management Unit, where she is currently putting her skills to work.

“My parents are very proud and happy to have me home, it doesn’t feel like a job or work, I’m doing things that I love,” she said.

Ms David said she has always wanted to work in the marine biology field.

“Even before starting primary school, I knew I wanted to be a marine biologist,” she said.

“My dad is a cray fisherman and growing up I was always out on the reef with him, I love it.

“I want to ensure future generations can experience the sea and all that it provides.”

Ms David’s road to get where she is today was hard – at 11 years old she left her family to attend boarding school on Thursday Island.

“There were a lot of things we didn’t learn to get us ready for high school,” she said.

“I felt like I was behind, but it didn’t take me long to catch up.

“We had one teacher who’d go out of his way to help us students who were struggling, he tutored on weekends and stayed after school.”

Although her education journey wasn’t easy, she pushed through the barriers and eventually started studying at James Cook University in Townsville.

“I had a rough time at uni, so I needed to commit and be definite about what I wanted to do,” she said.

“In the first two years, I was scared to ask for help even though many others were struggling too.

“That’s what got me through uni, I chose something I really wanted to do – so quitting wasn’t an option.

“If you focus on something you like doing, you won’t give up.”

Now Ms David is learning to find her voice to help inform local decision-making and support those around her, while encouraging more young people to chase their dreams.

“Scientists visit and if my workmates don’t feel comfortable, I ask the questions and then break it down into Creole to help everyone understand,” she said.

“I think with my degree and experience, I get a lot of support from the rangers and Traditional Owners I talk to.”

Ms David said she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.