“Never, Never, Never Give up. Live life to its fullest. Be determined. Persevere”.
Turia Pitt is a mining engineer. Attending her first undergraduate lecture, a fellow student told Turia she was “in the wrong class”. Challenging assumptions and prevailing against the odds was to become a theme in Turia’s life. Not only did she carve out a successful engineering career in the traditionally male-dominated mining industry, but when the catastrophic Kimberley fires of 2011 almost took her life, she survived and refused to be limited by her injuries.
Graduating from the University of New South Wales with a double degree (with honours) in Mining Engineering and Science, Turia earned a scholarship with Rio Tinto and in January 2011 secured her dream job at the prestigious Argyle Diamond Mine.
Turia soon managed challenging multi-million dollar engineering projects and became involved in an impressive range of philanthropic and community programs. She volunteered with the St John’s Ambulance team and the Argyle Diamond Mine’s Emergency Response Team; taught English to students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; cycled in Cambodia for Childfund – raising funds to build two schools; and worked on a housing project in Mongolia with Habitat for Humanity.
In 2011, Turia was one of four marathon runners trapped in a remote gorge in the Kimberley region when bushfires swept through the area. She suffered deep burns to more than 60 percent of her body.
Fighting back from a two-month coma and recovering from more than 100 operations – including the removal of the fingers and thumb on her right hand and dozens of skin grafts – Turia has “accepted and moved on”. She’s re-learnt basic life skills including eating and walking, reclaimed her independence and declared the fire which turned her life upside down would not define her future which includes community engagement on issues she is passionate about, and completing a Masters in Mining Engineering.
Promoting organ and tissue donation and supporting people with burn injuries is important to Turia. While continuing various treatment programs to help her recovery, this year Turia is participating in the Variety Cycle from Sydney to Uluru and she’ll walk a section of the Great Wall of China to raise money for Interplast, a non-profit organisation providing free reconstructive surgery for people in developing countries.
Showing the strength of character and courage she has become renowned for, Turia’s 2014 program includes returning to the Kimberley region to compete in the 20km Lake Argyle Swim.
Turia’s resilience inspires all who meet her. Following the release of her book, Everything to live for, Turia is a popular guest-speaker who shares her story of survival and achievement through adversity with businesses leaders, community groups and schools. The response she receives from audiences – and the comments on her website – are a testament to the fact that Turia’s message of perserverance resonates with women from all over the world. Turia motivates others to make positive changes in their lives. Her never, never, never give up motto, is a strong and powerful message which not only looks great on Turia’s now-signature running shirt, but is an anthem for women everywhere striving to close the gender gap.