Aurora Scholar Samara Hand Reflects on her 2015 Study Tour Experience
Tuesday 5 April 2016
Awabakal woman and UNSW Law Graduate Samara Hand (Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Laws) was one of 19 students from across Australia selected to attend the 2015 Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour. Samara has recently submitted an application to the University of London to undertake a Masters in Understanding and Securing Human Rights. Samara learnt about the program through a past Roberta Sykes Scholar and had the opportunity to visit the University of London while on the Study Tour. TAI shares some of her reflections on visits to Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Cambridge, Oxford and the University of London.
Samara found herself surprised not only by the cultural differences between the US, UK and Australia, but also by how her opinions of each university, as well as of her own capabilities, changed.
Samara recalls her initial thoughts around her readiness for postgraduate study overseas:
“Prior to the Tour I could not see myself studying at Harvard. I thought that I would not be good enough and that my interests would not fit within the law school. It was exciting to find out that there are a number of Professors who share my passion for child rights. Speaking with Professors and the Dean of Admissions made me realise that I actually have something that I could bring to the table that they don’t have; an Australian Indigenous perspective. After visiting the University I can definitely see myself studying there in the future.
At the beginning of the Study Tour, although I would like to, I could not see myself studying at Oxford as it did not seem that my study interests would be a good fit or that I would be good enough to get in. My meeting with Professor Lucinda Ferguson completely changed my perception. She was interested in my proposed PhD topic and we spoke for hours about various issues in child rights as well as study and experiences at universities in different countries. By the end of the meeting, I believe that I had found someone who was genuinely interested in supervising me for a PhD. Having a Professor from such a reputable institution show an interest has given me the confidence to seriously consider study at Oxford. While I realise that I will need to work extra hard in my Masters to gain entry, it now seems less a fantasy and more a realistic possibility.
"It was great to meet all of the Aurora scholars currently studying at Oxford. Seeing so many of our own mob studying there makes it feel more like a possible future home.”
Whilst on the Study Tour, Samara took advantage of the opportunity to attend various lectures and law clinics and visited the United Nations headquarters. She says one of the highlights of the trip was visiting New York City.
“Columbia offers a great program and has excellent connections with the UN. Walking through the main entrance of campus and seeing a poster advertising that Kofi Annan was giving an opening lecture and hearing that Amal Clooney once taught a course in the law school illustrates that New York is one of the best places to be educated in human rights.”
Encouraging students to apply to the International Study Tour
“I strongly encourage anyone who is interested to apply for the Study Tour. You have nothing to lose. You may think it's unlikely - that you could never see yourself attending one of the most prestigious universities in the world; but you won't know for sure until you visit each university and see for yourself.”
Applications for the 2016 Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour open 2nd May 2016 and close 3rd June 2016.
If you are a university student or graduate of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent, with strong academic results in an undergraduate, Honours or Masters degree and would like to pursue postgraduate study or a postdoc at one of the world’s leading universities, we would love to hear from you!
The group of successful applicants will leave Australia in the last week of October 2016 and spend 3 weeks in the US visiting Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia and NYU, and 2 weeks in the UK at Cambridge and Oxford.
More information on selection criteria, itinerary, obligations and how to apply is available here