Meet the 2015 Aurora Indigenous Study Tour Scholars
Thursday 15 October 2015
The group of successful applicants for the 2015 Study Tour left Australia on Saturday, 24 October for the 5 week Study Tour that will take them to Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia and NYU in the US, and then on to Cambridge and Oxford in the UK.
Before their departure, the Scholars were honoured at a reception on 22 October hosted by Mark Carnegie in Sydney, which was also attended by previous Scholars and supporters of both the Study Tour and other education programs under the banner of The Aspiration Initiative (TAI).
The evening’s MC was Kris Wilson (2014 Roberta Sykes Scholar and 2015 Charlie Perkins Scholar), and guests also heard speeches from Nathan Canuto (2014 Study Tour) as well as Kate Thomann (2015 recipient of the Roberta Sykes Bursary to attend the ‘Leading for Results’ program at INSEAD in Singapore).
Sharing his experiences on the Study Tour with reception guests, Nathan reflected:
“Making connections with other high-achieving Indigenous students was one of the most valuable aspects of the Tour for me. At university, I found myself feeling very isolated. At times I’d feel like I wasn’t able to express my opinions or my views without being shut down. On the Aurora Tour last year, I had the opportunity to meet other students who experienced similar pressures within their lectures. It was through some of the conversations I had on the Tour that I began to feel comforted, inspired and motivated. We all want to achieve great things for our communities, people and ourselves, but sometimes it’s difficult to achieve great things on your own. Having the support of the cohort and the growing Aurora family is something that may not be measurable, like the number of admissions into leading overseas universities, but I believe it will have a massive impact on the health, wellbeing and future of Indigenous Australians”.
Kate reflected on her own educational journey, and paid homage to her father, Kevin Gilbert – the first Indigenous playwright – concluding her remarks with these inspirational words to the departing Scholars:
“I would like to say to those amazing scholars about to travel the world to further their education. I say good luck, bon voyage and remember just how deadly you are. Your contribution to your family, your people and your community is what will continue to bring change to Indigenous Australia and to close the life, health, education and employment gap”.
The Study Tour is a great introduction to life as a postgraduate student at some of the world’s leading universities. This year’s group comes from a variety of universities and disciplines from the creative arts to education, law, health and community development.
To read their full biographies including the degrees they undertook at Australian universities and what they are hoping to study overseas click here
- Graham Akhurst: A descendant of the Kokomini people of Northern Queensland; from the University of Queensland.
- Brook Andrew: A descendant of the Wiradjuri people; from the University of Western Sydney and the College of Fine Arts (COFA) at the University of New South Wales.
- Kassmena Birch: A Torres Strait Islander from Thursday Island, and a descendant of the Wagadagam tribe (Mabuiag Island); from Deakin University and Griffith University.
- Ngaree Blow: An Aboriginal woman from Bangerang and Yorta-Yorta country in Victoria through her maternal side and Noonuccal country in North Stradbroke Island, Queensland on her paternal side; from the University of Melbourne.
- Malcolm Connolly: A descendant of the Kullili and Muruwari people of southwestern Queensland; from the University of Queensland.
- Debra Dank: A Gudjani/Wakaja woman of the Barkly Tablelands in the Northern Territory; from Deakin University.
- Hannah Dawson: A descendant of the Muruwari people of Northern NSW; from Macquarie University and the Australian National University.
- Todd Fernando: A descendent of the Kalarie Peoples of the Wiradjuri Nation in Central NSW; from the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney.
- Samara Hand: An Awabakal woman and a descendant of the Worimi and Biripi people; from the University of New South Wales.
- Bede Jones: A Pakana man from the Palawa people of Tasmania; from the University of Melbourne.
- Rachael Regina Mackay: A descendant of the Wiradjuri people; from the University of Western Sydney.
- Susan Mallinson: A descendant of the Yuin people of the NSW south coast; from the University of Western Sydney.
- David Meharg: A descendant of the Bigambul people of Queensland; from Charles Sturt University and the University of Newcastle.
- Jamie Penny: A descendant of the Mununjali people of South East Queensland and the Kooma people of Far Western Queensland; from Griffith University.
- Charles Prouse: A Nyikina man from Derby, the Kimberley, WA; from the University of Western Australia.
- Benjamin Ridgeway: A descendant of the Worimi people of the Port Stephens area; from the University of Sydney.
- Olivia Slater: A Whadjuk Nyoongar and Badimia Yamatji woman from Western Australia; from Victoria University.
- Teina Te Hemara: Belongs to the Yindjibarndi people from the Pilbara, Te Atiawa from New Zealand and mixed European ancestry; from the University of Western Australia.
- Shelley Torcetti: A descendant of the Galanggabang people of Wiradjuri country in Central NSW; from Bond University.
The 2015 Study Tour would not be possible without our supporters.