Outstanding Trio Leading the Way with Fulbright
Highly regarded and career transforming, Fulbright exchange scholarships are awarded to outstanding individuals to continue their academic research at top US universities. This month, we celebrate three exceptional Indigenous scholars who are leading in their fields, and will be travelling to America with these prestigious awards.
Dr Stephanie Gilbert, Coordinator of Teaching Quality and Development at The Wollotuka Institute at the University of Newcastle, has dedicated her life of research to exploring the concept of body dysphoria as a consequence of Australia’s assimilation policies. In particular, Stephanie has been examining the Stolen Generations and the consequences on their bodies, including epigenetic consequences that may be inherited by subsequent generations.
“What if a Stolen Generations person were to look down at themselves, see brown skin and feel nothing but disgust?” Stephanie asks.
“This has happened,” she says “because many had perhaps no exposure or experience of Aboriginal culture or family and were taught they were not Aboriginal at all.”
With her postdoctoral scholarship, Stephanie will work with a range of academics from research groups and institutions such as The University of California (Santa-Cruz) and University of Washington’s Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, and she is dedicated to ensuring that the Stolen Generations are honourably represented in all of her research. Exploring this field in an international sphere will help inform a broader conversation around how identity is expressed in our bodies and in our sense-of-self.
Jessa Rogers is a proud Wiradjuri woman and a leading Indigenous scholar and expert in Aboriginal education, and will use her Fulbright ACT Postgraduate award to study at Harvard University’s Department of Anthropology later this year.
Now an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Canberra, Rogers graduated Year 12 as a 17-year-old mum to a son who was just 10 days old. Despite these challenges, she was determined to get a good education for the sake of her own and her children’s wellbeing.
Achieving highly and inspiring many along her way, Jessa became a PhD Candidate at the ANU exploring Aboriginal and Māori girls’ contemporary boarding school experiences in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand through ‘photoyarn’, an Indigenous arts-based method that she developed.
“As an Indigenous scholar and someone passionate about Indigenous studies, I often stay within my ‘safe’ zone, and don’t venture out of that space as much as I should,” said Jessa. “To win a Fulbright reminded me that as Aboriginal people we should continue to put our name forward and believe in our hard work and achievements no matter what the opportunity or how much we feel we won’t get there.”
“It is absolutely the case that our people are the best of the best in many fields and will continue to be so in years to come.”
Law scholar, author and Gomeroi woman Alison Whittaker intends to use her Fulbright Postgraduate Scholarship to complete a Master of Laws (LLM) program at Harvard University in the US.
She hopes to spend her time in the LLM program exploring similarities and tensions in the enforcement and development of Indigenous lawmaking alongside emerging responses by Indigenous women against 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.
"The Fulbright lets me contribute to this, and to emerge from the program with perspective and a clearer vision for what is possible between law and Indigenous peoples, and what must be done. I hope this will make me a better practitioner, researcher and advocate for my mob.”
Fulbright Scholarships provide opportunities for promising Australian students, academics, and professionals to carry out study or research in the U.S. in any field or discipline. Up to two Indigenous scholarships are awarded each year.
Applications for the 2018/19 rounds are open until 1 August. See www.fulbright.com.au for more information.