Aurora Scholar off to Harvard
2016 Aurora Study Tour participant and 2017 Roberta Sykes Scholar, Alison Whittaker, has been accepted into Harvard Law School and will be travelling to the Unites States to continue her studies. Alison has also notably been awarded the 2017 Fulbright Indigenous Postgraduate Scholarship to support her undertaking her Masters.
The Fulbright foreign exchange program is aimed at increasing academic collaboration with the US.
Recently graduated with a Bachelor of Communications and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Technology Sydney, this Gomeroi woman from Gunnedah NSW has a strong history of achievement.
Among other accomplishments, Alison was the 2015 National Indigenous Law Student of the Year, and just last month was announced as the joint winner of the Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets with her poetry collection MANY GIRLS WHITE LINEN.
In this step of Alison’s academic journey, she will be completing the Master of Laws program and continuing her research on contemporary forms of Indigenous lawmaking and its relationship to Indigenous self-determination and gendered violence.
"A Fulbright is an opportunity to extend and share reciprocal knowledge across the Pacific Ocean to Turtle Island (North America) in a time where collaboration between First Nations lawyers, scholars and thinkers is urgent and exciting," Alison said.
“When you examine the contexts, shared and distinct, between Indigenous Australians and Native Americans it’s clear we have much to learn from each other. It is crucial for us to share perspectives and expertise – especially on nation-building and treaty law as Australia now moves into treaty talks”.
Alison had previously visited Harvard University with the Aurora Study Tour in 2016, during which time she was able to discuss her career aspirations with academics.
“I was already set on applying to Harvard for their LLM”, she said. “The visit changed how I set my application apart and also what I can envisage myself studying while completing the LLM. My visits with faculty were crucial in this.”
“The biggest, simplest impact was when two faculty members, independent of one another, described my work as ‘compelling’ and engaged (I hope) enthusiastically with my current and proposed research and practice. It was a small gesture, but one that helped me shake imposter syndrome. It was also one that affirmed that I didn’t just want to go to Harvard, but that Harvard might have interest in and a place for me and my work”, she said.
“I felt nurtured and like my potential time at Harvard could be part of building something bigger than a degree.”
Aurora CEO Richard Potok congratulated Alison on her achievement and said it was a pleasure having her on the 2016 Study Tour.
“Alison is a very talented lawyer and artist who I have no doubt will make a profound contribution upon her return to Australia,” he said.
“The Aurora Study Tour was a terrific opportunity for Alison make connections at Harvard and investigate what it would be like to study in the United States”.
Applications for the 2017 Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour are now open and close in June. For more information, visit: https://www.indigenousscholarships.com.au/#/nav/scholarship/2017-Aurora-Indigenous-Scholars-International-Study-Tour