JACOB Johnson could be a poster boy for Queensland’s State of Origin spirit.  The last time Queenslander Magazine caught up with Jacob, he was a member of the ARTIE Academy at Marsden State High School, and preparing himself for what life was about to bring out in the real world.

Looking for some direction about his future career choices, Jacob attended a week-long camp at the Australian Defence Force’s Gallipoli Barracks at Enoggera through the FOGS.

The visit turned into a life-changing moment for Jacob, he told ARTIE Academy Education Coordinator, Hamish McLoughlin when he recently returned to Marsden State High School for a visit – taking a small break from his new life in the Australian Army Infantry, based in Darwin.

“While I was in year 11, the coordinators at ARTIE arranged for me to go on an Indigenous Experience Camp for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander High school students,” Jacob said.

“The camp had been arranged to celebrate the NAIDOC week, and the theme that year was celebrating Black Diggers.

“I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted to do after I finished high school, so a friend and I decided to go on the camp as just something to do during the school holidays.

“On the camp we went to the different ADF bases around Brisbane. They showed us around.

“It was on this camp that I thought about my future.

“I hadn’t ever really considered the Defence Force, but while it was while I was on camp that the army seemed like a real option for me for the future.”

Jacob said he had embraced life working in the armed forces, and the tough combination of working in the army and living in the oppressive heat of Australia’s top end.

“I finished up with school in 2015, and went to basic training in Kapooka in NSW and then onto Singleton, NSW for core specific training,” he said.

“I was then posted to Darwin, where I live on the barracks.

“I’ve been in Darwin for six months. Darwin is really hot and can make going to work really tough.

“But I enjoy the challenge. It keeps me busy, fit, and I hang out with mates.

“I have received some really great support from my superiors, mates that I have made and friends and family back home.

“It is always good knowing that during tough times I can draw on their support.”

Jacob’s advice to fellow ARTIE Academy students working towards forging their own paths after school could come straight out of a Maroons coaching manual.

“You have to be tough, motivated and think of the end goal,” Jacob said.  “There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

“Things may seem challenging at times. I tell myself that when we are carrying 50kg packs, things could be worse and I could be carrying two packs.

“It’s also important to make the most of the opportunities that are presented to you.

“The Indigenous ADF camp I went on with ARTIE was my opportunity, and it has total changed the trajectory of my life.”