28 January 2015
|Bond University student Tani Stubbs has been named Gold Coast Young Citizen of the Year, after raising over $1 million to fund schools and help rebuild a hospital in Tonga - all before her 18th birthday.
Tani added the award to her growing list of accolades, having received awards for International Women of the Year Youth Leadership and Community and Service, Women in Business Empowering Young Women, the Gold Duke of Edinburgh, as well as being nominated for both Pride of Australia and Young Australian of the Year in 2014.
As the Gold Coast Young Citizen of the Year, the impressive youngster was also selected to raise the Australian flag at the Gold Coast City Council's Australian Day celebrations in Evandale Park.
The Bond University student has dedicated herself to improving the lives of thousands of students abroad, after hearing the pupils of Tupou High School in Tonga didn't have access to desk or chairs.
"My dad met with the Principal of Tupou High School and he mentioned the students were working without chairs or desks. I knew I had to do something," said Tani.
"In total, I raised over $1 million in school supplies, furniture, books and computers - filling six 40 foot shipping containers with equipment used to fully refurbish three schools in Tonga, benefiting more than 3000 students.
"As a result, a sister-school relationship has been established between All Saints Anglican School and Tupou High School, with funds set aside for students from Tonga to study at All Saints free of charge. The first two students have recently arrived to complete their senior schooling on the Gold Coast in 2015."
Tani also helped rebuild a local Tongan hospital when it was damaged by a cyclone in 2013, sending two shipping containers of medical supplies and just this month arranged for 1800 computers to be sent to students in Tonga.
"I like to do things big," she said.
The 18-year-old has always been eager to lend a hand, volunteering at Riding for the Disabled at the young age of 12, the earliest she was legally able to volunteer.
"I was involved with Riding for the Disabled for four years, every Saturday assisting children with special needs develop abilities and life-skills through specialised horse related activities," she said.
Since then, Tani has worked with Mudgeeraba Special School, Broadbeach Carousel, Homeless Connect, and recently initiated a soft toy drive through the All Saints Junior School securing more than 600 soft toys to donate to Love and Care, an organisation that supplies care packages to children in foster care.
The Gold Coast student was the recipient of this year's Bartercard Scholarship to Bond University and has just commenced a double degree in business and journalism.
"I chose to study journalism to give a voice to children around the world who aren't able to speak for themselves, and business to learn the skills to be able to run my own official charity," she said.
"Journalism has always been a particular passion of mine. I am currently a student reporter at the Gold Coast Bulletin, and also work as a junior editor at the Friday Flyer Community Newspaper."
The young go-getter has also interned at Channel 9, Radio Metro and Girlfriend Magazine in Sydney, and completed a 'Student for a Semester' program at Bond University in 2013.
Tani credits her family with always supporting her, no matter how big her dreams may be.
"My family and boyfriend are my biggest champions, I am so grateful for the help and guidance I receive from them," she said.