Family and culture the focus for Valedictorian

17 Dec 2018

Carl FranciaA knee injury set Carl Francia on the path that led to his graduation this week from the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at The University of Queensland.

He graduates from the Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) program as Valedictorian, something he describes as an honour and a privilege.

“In my late 20s, I had knee surgery and follow-up rehabilitation through the public system,” he said.

“It was only then that I was exposed to physiotherapy for the first time and a seed was planted – a small dream, now realised, was nurtured from that day.”

Carl maintained a high GPA throughout his studies, collected a number of Dean’s Commendations for Academic Excellence, held an Indigenous Cadetship and contributed to the Cultural Capabilities Working Group.

A proud Torres Strait Islander, Carl says his heritage and culture kept him grounded during his studies.

As a member of The Koranga Saibai Koedal Dancers, Carl maintained his performance schedule despite the demands of full time study.

“It is important to me and I will always find the time – it is who I am," he said.

“It connects me to my family and community and it connects me to my ancestors.

“It has been my sword and shield and it imbues me with strength.”

Carl said his graduation would also have been impossible without the help of his wife Tracey Francia, who offered tireless support while raising their young sons Theodore and Oliver.

“I am grateful to have such a supportive partner in life and I am humbled by her strength.”

The family connection doesn’t end there.

Carl’s sister, Victoria Francia, was in the same cohort and graduated alongside her brother.

“It was great studying together and great to have the opportunity to spend so much time together.

“I am so proud of her.”

Carl’s next step is a position as a physiotherapist at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane, which he starts next month.

He advises fellow students to find their passion and pursue it through their studies and into a career.

“Dream big and set small daily goals to realise your dream,” he said.

“Your dream is the destination and the goals you set are the road map.”

Media: UQ Communications,, +61 7 3365 1120.