Wednesday, 14 November 2012
University of Adelaide student and young entrepreneur Vanessa Picker is South Australia's Young Australian of the Year for 2013.
Vanessa, who is completing her Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the University's Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre this year, already has many innovative social and not-for-profit projects to her name.
"The opportunity to undertake the Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship has opened up a lot of opportunities throughout the last 18 months," says Vanessa.
"The practical nature of the program has enabled me to balance full time study, elite sporting commitments and several entrepreneurial ventures. Along the way, I have been guided by lecturers who have extensive experience in growing successful entrepreneurial ventures."
Vanessa says she was humbled and surprised by her award.
"It gives some important validation, that the work I have been doing is having an impact on the local community. I am excited to be able to share my vision and entrepreneurial journey with the Australian public, particularly in the lead up to the National Finals in January," she says.
In March this year, Vanessa led her team to victory in Harvard University Alumni's 2012 Social Venture Challenge with a project called Play It Forward. The project harnesses sport to build confidence and self esteem in young people and also encourages people to donate pre-loved sporting gear to support local communities.
This venture also saw her named one of Australia's Young Social Pioneers for 2012, by the Foundation for Young Australians.
Vanessa was a member of the FitUsIn team which won the People's Choice and Best Solutions International 'Diamond in the Rough' awards at this year's University of Adelaide ZEN eChallenge, for an online platform that connects unused gym capacity with customers that fall outside of the normal membership structure.
She is also working on a social enterprise called Blue Kangaroo to help people find and do business with ethical and socially responsible businesses.
Vanessa was recently selected to facilitate the 23rd International Youth Leadership Conference in Prague which brought together young leaders from nine countries.
In July 2012 she was one of 50 students selected from around the world to participate in an international summit on global issues.
Vanessa also excels in cricket at a state level and is training with the South Australian Women's team with the aim of winning a place on the National Cricket League team.