Aurora Scholars take off on Study Tour

Aurora Scholars take off on Study Tour Aurora Scholars at the University of California, Berkley

Friday 18 November 2016

The Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour got underway in late-October, with 19 inspiring Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Scholars leaving for the US and UK to take a look at what leading world universities have to offer in postgraduate studies.

Prior to departure, the Scholars were farewelled at a reception on 20 October in Sydney.

They left for the US on 23 October, spending the first leg of the Study Tour visiting top American universities: University of California, Berkley; Columbia; Harvard, MIT, New York University and Stanford.

Some Scholars had the opportunity to sit in classes in their chosen discipline, being able to experience first hand the teaching and learning styles of different institutions.

“My highlights of the Study Tour thus far have been the business school classes I was able to attend at Stanford and Harvard”, said Ashley Walker,who belongs to La Perouse Aboriginal community and is a member of the Walbunga clan of the Yuin Nation, hopes to study a Master of Business Administration.

“I found the classes to be incredibly engaging and was impressed by the eloquent and respectful manner exhibited by the students. In addition to this, the Stanford class featured a panel discussion made up of leading venture capitalists who had invested in companies such as Uber, Twitter, Whatsapp and AirBnB, who gave a real life insight into entrepreneurship. Learning directly from these esteemed industry professionals was an amazing experience”, he said.

For Ash, it has been an opportunity to think about studying outside Australia and looking at study possibilities overseas, which was not something that he had previously considered.

“The Study Tour has been a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore the possibility of studying at these top institutions. I was initially only looking at Australian postgraduate opportunities but am now focused on pursuing an MBA abroad.”

To be accepted on to the Study Tour, each Scholar has already completed or is near completing their undergraduate degree. They have demonstrated a strong academic record which has them on track to being accepted into these universities, which only accept students on merit.

Ashley studied a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Law, and says that his family have been a constant source of strength and support during his study career.

“My mother impressed the importance of education at an early age, my grandparents stressed how important it was for both myself and the wider Aboriginal community to make the most of the opportunities I was given”, said Ashley.

“My father somehow managed to lend me his persistence and perseverance at times when my motivation faltered”, Ashley said.

Since its establishment the Study Tour has seen over 80 talented Indigenous students and graduates visit leading overseas universities.  Of these, to date, 34 have applied to the universities visited and 31 have been accepted into at least one of their preferred courses.

With such a high success rate, it puts this year’s Scholars in good stead for their future study aspirations.

“I plan on applying for a number of Master of Business Administration programs in the future as I hope to use the skills learnt during my studies to contribute to Indigenous economic development”, Ashley said.

The Study Tour concludes later in the month, with applications opening for the 2017 Study Tour in May 2017. To keep up to date on opening dates visit The Aspiration Initiative website, or keep your eye on future TAI newsletters.