Karinna Saxby

Karinna Saxby points to inequality in education

Crazy, nerdy love at the heart of charity for disadvantaged students

When it comes to biggest bugbears, Monash Engineering graduate Karinna Saxby (BE(Chem)(Hons) / BSci) points to inequality in education. It rankles her that only 60% of students from low socioeconomic status (SES) schools finish year 12, and that less than 20% of them go on to university. A single extra year of education increases life expectancy by 0.18 years! she decries. And so Karinna has created Horizon Mentors, a charity to inspire disadvantaged students to reach their potential.

Through peer support, Horizon Mentors strives to increase high school completion rates, university admissions and enterprising skills in students from low SES backgrounds. Online meetups provide outreach to remote areas. We’re only in the early days, but we’re trying to help out students in any way we can. Whether it's providing advice on how to find a part-time job or what subjects to choose for certain career paths she explains.

So how did Karinna get here? A passion for science and a “crazy, nerdy love” of maths attracted her to the biotechnology stream of Chemical Engineering – a choice that ultimately led to a Masters in Infectious Disease and a job at KPMG in life sciences and health advisory. I became more interested in how resources in health were distributed, what therapeutics were funded, and what interventions worked better than others she says. Low and behold, I had developed a passion for health economics!

If running a charity isn’t enough, Karinna has recently become a research fellow at the Centre for Health Economics, with a PhD in health inequality in the offing. She’s also working with the Triple R radio station to podcast interviews of people who’ve made the leap from a low SES background to an impressive career. None of this surprising given her credo: Keep all your options open. You never know where an opportunity will take you.