2014 Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour Reception
Wednesday 29 October 2014
The Reception was to introduce the 19 talented students and graduates from across Australia who were about to embark on the 2014 Study Tour (25th October – 29th November) to Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia and NYU in the US, followed by Cambridge and Oxford in the UK. Following on from the past three Study Tours, 22 participants have applied to the universities they visited and 20 have been accepted.
The Reception was a great opportunity for past Scholars and Bursary recipients to share their inspiring personal stories and to promote the growing possibilities for Indigenous postgraduate students in Australia to take their ideas on to a global stage. It was also a chance for supporters and other Indigenous leaders to meet the Scholars, to celebrate their successes, and become part of this growing community of Indigenous Australians achieving academic excellence.
Speakers at the Reception included Sharon Davis (2012 Aurora Scholar, 2013 Roberta Sykes Scholar), Leila Smith (2012 Aurora Scholar, 2013 Charlie Perkins Scholar), Dr Misty Jenkins Postdoctoral Researcher, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (undertook postdocs at Oxford and Cambridge), member of TAI’s Advisory Committee and the 2013 L’Oreal For Women in Science Fellow and Stacey Broadbent (2014 Chief Executive Women / Roberta Sykes Bursary Recipient “Learning to Lead” program). They all shared their experiences of studying overseas and how this has impacted them and their future, as well as their sense of being part of this growing community which has so much to offer each other and the broader community.
“In a couple of days’ time, this group of Indigenous Australians will begin their journey to America and the United Kingdom to engage with some of the best universities in the world. It is here they will be inspired, empowered and come to realise that they are capable of participating at elite levels of academia that so few Australians have participated in, and even fewer Indigenous Australians.
In fact, four years ago there had never been an Indigenous Australian studying for a fulltime degree at Cambridge or Oxford universities. However, times are changing. Today, 24 Indigenous Australians have been accepted to Oxford and/or Cambridge, 11 of whom are about to commence the 2014‐15 academic year there.
Had it not been for the Aurora Project Study Tour, there is no way I would have applied for a degree at Oxford and NYU. And now, here I am only two years later, with an MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition from the University of Oxford. But I couldn’t have done it without the support of the other Indigenous scholars.
We’ve built a little community of support, which grew from our culture and a common goal of wanting the best for our mob. And, as I mentioned earlier, our community is still growing! 2014 scholars, we welcome you into our little overseas Indigenous academic community. We keep each other safe and supported, to help you through the next part of your journey, so you can come home ready to take on whatever life decides to throw at you."
Sharon Davis (2012 Aurora Scholar, 2013 Roberta Sykes Scholar) to read her full speech click here
“Getting a world class education is something our grandparents never dreamed of, and this is about paying tribute to the past. And we need to look to the future too, this opportunity brings huge potential to address barriers that our people are still facing today.
When you create a welcome space where people can come together, support each other, and share ideas - that is a strong foundation for initiatives that can build momentum and change people’s lives. It’s what we are about here today. I think it is something that we can’t take for granted - that we should do our bit to continue building the momentum.
Think about what opportunities you want your children to have. Initiatives like this need to continue, so I’d encourage you all not to lose sight of the bigger collective picture and significance of the Tour."
Leila Smith (2012 Aurora Scholar, 2013 Charlie Perkins Scholar) to read her full speech click here
Amongst the Indigenous Australian leaders and supporters who attended the reception were Uncle Chika Madden, who opened with the Welcome to Country, and Dr Tom Calma AO (Charlie Perkins Scholarship Trust Trustee) known and respected for his inspirational and inclusive advocacy for human rights and social justice.
The 2014 Aurora Study Tour Scholars also had a pre-departure information session at the Aurora offices in Alexandria on the 24th of October, where they had the opportunity to hear about scholarship opportunities available to them. Representatives from Endeavour Scholarships, the Fulbright Commission, Monash Awards, and Rhodes Scholarships shared insights into the application process and provided an opportunity for students to ask questions. There were also some past Charlie Perkins Scholars (Lilly Brown, Krystal Lockwood, Sarah Lynn Rees) and Roberta Sykes scholars (Sharon Davis, Auntie Kerrie Doyle, Taryn Lee and Greg Lehman) who shared tips and insights about the application process.
The International Study Tour is part of The Aspiration Initiative which aims to broaden the conversation about what is possible for Indigenous Australians in relation to academic achievement.
If you are interested, or know someone that might be eligible to apply for the 2015 International Study Tour keep an eye on The Aspiration Initiative website for application dates: http://theaspirationinitiative.com.au/international-opportunities/international-study-tour or send an enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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