Hope’s story

Hope Kuchel belongs to the Barkindji nation located in western NSW along the Darling River. She is an alumna of Aurora’s pilot High School Program and has recently graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Criminology and Sociology.

Hope is now employed as a mentor for Aurora’s NSW High School Program cohort and has also completed a 4-week internship through the Aurora Internship Program. We spoke to Hope after she was recently accepted for this year’s Study Tour through the Aurora International Scholarships Program.

During high school, Hope was a participant of Aurora’s pilot High School Program which provided intensive academic and cultural support over a six-year period.

“I found this program to be such an enriching experience that fostered a strong sense of community among our Victorian cohort, which has been a great network to have to this day.”

In 2018, Hope applied for a 4-week winter internship with Aurora’s Internship Program, which places students into organisations around Australia. She was placed at ACT Corrective Services in Canberra as the Cultural Diversity Policy Intern. Throughout her placement she gained an immense amount of knowledge on the criminal justice system and more specifically, how ACT policy differs from policy in Victoria.

“As a First Nations applicant, I received a scholarship funded internship which covered away-from-home costs and daily living expenses. Without this assistance, I would never have been able to consider an interstate internship andwould have missed out [on] such an invaluable experience.”

Hope has now been accepted into this year’s Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour Program. The Study Tour is a five-week academic tour of leading universities in the US and the UK, including universities like Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford. In light of the current travel restrictions, this year’s Study Tour has been replaced with a virtual Study Tour Symposium for the 2020 cohort.

Although this year has been a difficult one for many of us, Hope is looking forward to using the virtual Study Tour Symposium and is using this time to make as many connections as she can with her peers, mentors and academics. She aims to take advantage of this opportunity and adapt to the way the Study Tour has moved online. She is looking forward to learning more and continuing to become more informed about overseas opportunities.

“I was beyond thrilled to have been accepted into this year’s Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour Program. I believe this tour will help medevelop a clearer vision of which direction to head in regarding future studies.”

Hope says “without Aurora, I wouldn’t have pursued university as a possible future direction … it was never something that seemed likely coming from a rural high school. In each of these programsat Aurora, I’ve always been well supported and connected with a strong network of First Nations peers and mentors who have continued to inspire me and hold me accountable to community.”

Finally, here is Hope’s advice for others who may want to apply for an Aurora program: “Apply. Even if you’re not too sure how exactly it will work or if you are qualified. It’s so important to apply and have the option to accept and continue, then not to have the option at all. Also, be sure to research what opportunities are on offer and pick what’s best for you. As these programs are quite valuable and offer great insight into future pathways, be proactive and communicate your ideas and goals, so you get the best out of the experience.”