Study Tour Reflection 2019

New Perspectives…

I found it particularly valuable being around a group of people who think critically and are passionate and proud of being Indigenous … It was really beautiful and humbling to be a recipient of people’s generosity and time.

Meeting with professors at these universities and having them say ‘your ideas are great’, ‘you have a great anthropological eye’, or ‘if you are interested in studying here please contact me I am very interested in your ideas’, made me realise that I have what it takes to be in this space and that it wasn’t just me always fighting for my worth in these places but that other people could see the contribution I could make.

Danika Watson
University of Southern Queensland

 

I always intended to do my Masters, but no one had ever told me studying overseas was an option.It was merely a dream before the Study Tour.

Annaliese McCarthy
Queenlsand University of Technology

 

The best thing about the Study Tour was hearing people’s stories … which clarified my perspective on the opportunities on offer overseas.

Benjamin Mitchell
Australian National University 

Study Tour Scholars at Harvard University
Visit to Lawrence Berkeley National Labratory
[Study Tour] was an empowering experience that offered a whole new perspective on what graduate study could look like internationally.
Riana Tatana

Meeting other Australians overseas, both Indigenous and non Indigenous, was so valuable and opened my mind up to the endless possibilities of studying or working overseas.  Hearing about their educational journeys was motivating and quite inspiring.  

This Study Tour has given me outstanding motivation to lift the bar on my work ethic and to complete my PhD to the highest standard.It has also helped me keep my work internationally relevant.

Beau Cubillo
Monash University

 

The most important aspects of the Tour were those that inspired new ideas and cultivated a renewed motivation for pursuits that will drive positive impacts.

I found the fellow participants inspiring, and believe I learnt a lot from discussion their own journeys and engaging in topical, political and intellectual discussions.

Caleb Adams
Griffith University

 

I can’t think of any other scholarship program that is quite like the Study Tour.For me, it was an empowering experience that offered a whole new perspective on what graduate study could look like internationally.

Along the way, I met many other postgraduate students.A key piece of wisdom many of them shared with me is something that I will continue to remember while applying to these prestigious universities – one of the most important reasons for studying at a university as influential as Cambridge is that it provides you with the sociocultural and financial capital that will only help to legitimise the minority voices that need to be, and should be, heard.

This really helped to clarify my desire to study internationally.Further, it was also reinforced to me (by the postgrad students) that the university doesn’t ‘make’ you, you make the university.Being told that I have something valuable to contribute to Cambridge is a weird thing to think about, but through this Study Tour experience, I’m learning that this is in fact a truth that I need to start believing in entirely.

I am also grateful for the connections that the Study Tour allowed us to forge with mob from across Australia, which only helps to strengthen our community.I truly feel as though I have met some of the most brilliant minds and leaders of our country.For that, I feel very lucky!

Riana Tatana
Deakin University
University of New South Wales

I would encourage prospective students to go into the Study Tour with an open mind and not to disregard a university or course because it doesn’t seem to be the right fit for them on paper.I found that the universities I am now most interested in attending are those I never would have considered without the Study Tour.

Grace Gillard
University of New England

 

The Study Tour enabled me to meet with incredible people doing the work I want to do … who gave me insight into just how big I could grow my ideas.

It really made me feel like I could contribute to something greater than anything I had previously dreamt.

Latoya Rule
Flinders University

 

Cambridge was purely a university town and not over-crowded at all.It seemed dedicated to higher education and study as a place and space.

I felt like I had gone back in time to an old village – it was a very surreal beautiful place to be.I was not expecting it to have maintained its architectural integrity.

I really enjoyed and appreciated staying at Trinity College and getting to walk through the massive halls and gardens as I walked in between my room and the colleges.I also really enjoyed getting a personal visit of Darwin and St Edmund’s College.

Clint Hansen
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

 

I half expected the students [at Cambridge] to be elitist or posh, but my time staying at St Catherine’s showed me that everyone is welcoming.It was lovely having the opportunity to talk to students at the college and ask more informal questions about their study habits and their lifestyle.

Annaliese McCarthy
Queenlsand University of Technology

 

The diversity of Oxford surprised me a lot.Initially, the architecture echoes that of Hogwarts and suggests stereotypes of posh, soon to be millionaires, gowned in privilege and dusty clothes from the 19th century.

To my pleasant surprise, this was not the case.Oxford is very diverse and proactive in bettering its representation.This made me feel very comfortable as a cold, shivering Bundjalung fella wondering which house between Slytherin or Gryffindor had the most Blakfellas, and whether I’d get to choose either way.

Going on Study Tour has greatly enhanced my ambition and academic expectations for the future.

Dakota Feirer
University of Wollongong

Scholars with Prof Jane Stapleton Christ's College, Cambridge

Inspiring Academics & Classes

My favourite aspect of the Study Tour was being able to meet with academics and visit these universities that had all seemed so far out of my reach before.  The approachability of staff and getting to meet PhD students who had similar backgrounds to me was so inspiring.

I found the academics and other staff and students at Harvard were extremely welcoming and generous with their time.

[For example, at Cambridge] the knowledge, humility and welcoming nature of the Faculty of Education academics I met with – Professor Paul Ramchandani, Professor Carol Holliday and Professor Susan Robinson – was so inspiring! The connection between research projects conducted by the faculty and the local community, such as their involvement at local schools, was something I hadn’t encountered at any other university.This is of high importance to me and I believe this really contributes more richness to the institution and to you as student as you get a more practical and connected experience around research, learning and community impacts.

Rhianna Brickle
Deakin University
University of Tasmania

 

Patrick Naranjo coordinated our sessions at Berkeley perfectly.We were welcomed with warmth and a sense of community.Patrick and Carmen went out of their way to ensure our visit was successful, and I really appreciate the effort they put into our visit.The session on Graduate Admissions was particularly helpful, as it gave us insight into the processes of applying to UC Berkeley and clarified the requirements for admission.

My meeting with Professor Dirzo was a stand-out experience at Stanford for me.I have long been aware of Professor Dirzo’s work, as he is a world-renowned conservation biologist, and has authored several leading journal articles in the field … I found him to be humble and openly encouraged me to pursue my passions.

Grace Gillard
University of New England

 

I gained the opportunity to meet with an excellent team of people who were working on the Stanford Open Policing Project (SOPP).

This meeting really opened up a new understanding for me in my own research and my own activism.It made me excited about areas of research I hadn’t yet understood or utilised and made me think about the wider possibility in my own work.

Joseph Lamont Brown, the Graduate Diversity Recruitment Officer at Stanford, was an excellent host who I could tell was passionate about the university, his own research and the students.

Latoya Rule
Flinders University

 

I was delighted by the calibre of the people we met by coincidence or happenstance at Stanford.The experience was impactful for me – it showed me exactly where I want to be in the nearby future.The innovation was real.I felt that with hard work and discipline I could truly become excellent in my field if I were to become a student at Stanford … surrounded by peers who are equally motivated and deeply intellectually curious.

Candice Bowditch
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

 

I had a really positive meeting with the faculty that oversees Columbia’s Master of Sustainability Management.Following this, I was able to attend four classes on top of existing commitments.This provided a great insight into the class dynamic, content, student demographic, and lifestyle.

Caleb Adams
Griffith University

This meeting really opened up a new understanding for me in my own research and my own activism. It made me excited about areas of research I hadn't yet understood or utilised…
Latoya Rule

Meeting with Professor Marion Nestle at NYU was a highlight of this leg of the Study Tour.  Marion was extremely insightful and very knowledgeable about not only the field of Nutrition, but also the context of Australia and she had even spent time at the Charlie Perkins Centre in Sydney.  She signed one of her books and gifted it to me which was a special moment.  I left this meeting feeling motivated and with belief in myself.

Beau Cubillo
Monash University

 

The Stern School of Business at NYU was very inclusive and appealing.The focus on student-faculty relationships at the PhDlevel allowed PhDstudents to be on par with their supervisors and provided a sense of reciprocity.I certainly found myself being welcomed into this environment.I felt a sense of belonging as I participated in group discussions, as the faculty directors were interested in my story and encouraged me to apply.

Benjamin Mitchell
Australian National University

 

Columbia have a number of classes that visiting students can attend and I attended one by Kimberley Crenshaw.If I had not come on the StudyTour, I would never have had the opportunity to hear (arguably) one of the most famous academics in the world speak.I am so thankful for that opportunity.

Alana Daly
Griffith University

 

Speaking with NYU’s Professor Nisha Sajnani about Drama Therapy was a huge highlight for me.We discussed my interest in the program, the types of opportunities that it encompasses and the ways in which specific theatre practices can be mobilised as therapeutic techniques.

Meeting with Professor Victoria Elliott at Oxford was lovely.She was incredibly accommodating and honest about what Oxford may have to offer a postgraduate student looking to study both theatre & education.She gave me great insight into the structure of the doctorate degree, including the ways in which curriculum can be developed, implemented and evaluated.

Riana Tatana
Deakin University
University of New South Wales

 

The conversation I had with Leith Sharp from Harvard was very relevant as she was from Australia.It was also really exciting and special that she shared part of a lecture with me around being a change-maker for the good of sustainability.

At Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment, I had a meeting with Dr Ariell Ahearn who is the program coordinator for the MSc/MPhil in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance.She was truly inspiring and amazing.She was a very down-to-earth person who was upfront and honest about what to expect from the degree and teaching style.She also passed on insights regarding the requirements of both a Master of Science and Master of Philosophy.

Clint Hansen
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

 

Hearing from Aysha Upchurch at Harvard was deadly.She spoke a lot about hip hop as a pedagogy and form of embodied learning.She made me challenge my own postgraduate ideas, which was a highly valuable conversation.She also invited me along to a class where I heard the amazing youth work of ZUMIX which resonated with me deeply.

Dakota Feirer
University of Wollongong

 

I spent several hours in the Harvard history faculty graduate study room chatting with students about their work and experience at Harvard.Their description of the workload and language requirements of the PhD program was very helpful, but not as valuable as their thoughts on the significance of studying history and their aspirations after graduation.Their candour and friendliness not only helped me think through my own priorities and desires, but also gave me a good impression of the sense of community among students at Harvard.

Ganur Maynard
University of New South Wales

 

Seeing the Australian collection at the Peabody Museum was my favourite moment at Harvard.The staff were passionate and treated us with respect and allowed us to see and touch the artefacts.It was really special.I got to hold objects that the old people held.I got to experience something that not even most Harvard students, let alone Australians will ever get to do!

 

Danika Watson
University of Southern Queensland

Scholars visiting behind the scenes at the Peabody Museum, Harvard
Ben Mitchell and Ganur Maynard with Patrick Naranjo at Berkeley
If I had not come on the Study Tour, I would never have had the opportunity to hear (arguably) one of the most famous academics in the world speak. I am so thankful for that opportunity.
Alana Daly

I had my favourite meeting of the Study Tour with Professor Aaliyah El-Amin at Harvard.  Reading her work on critical consciousness, emancipatory education and social justice pedagogies, gave me a new language to articulate my interests.  It also shone a light on new ways I can see my research taking form and purpose.

Paris Mordecai
University of Melbourne

 

Harvard Business School equips students for leadership roles.There was a genuine buzz in the air that I would love to be a part of…I was amazed at the pace of the Finance 1 course and the interactions between the lecturer and students.The lecturer bounced around the room and covered content in a way that had my head spinning but managed to bring the conversation together in the end leaving the class feeling comfortable with the content discussed.

Allen Roberts
University of Melbourne

 

I met with multiple PhD students in Computer Science who had been supervised by Professor Clare Grey and Dr Michael de Volder. During their research … they were motivated by their passion and by the opportunities afforded to them at Cambridge, and had gone on to found renewable energy start-ups, as well as work in the thought leadership space in climate change.This countered the narrative I had in mind about UK academics, and the idea of being hurried through a 3-year PhD program.Whilst I understand that the individuals I met were potentially quite exceptional, it was energising to meet with such ambitious PhD students at different stages in their program.

Candice Bowditch
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

 

My meeting with Ben Davenport and a colleague of his from Canada was certainly my standout moment at Cambridge.Ben explained the logistics of the MPhil in Heritage Studies and all the different research projects currently in operation and potential areas I could focus on.His insight was invaluable and honest, giving me a true understanding of the strengths and limitations of this course in comparison to similar degrees in the US.

Shanysa McConville
University of Melbourne

 

From the moment I stepped off the bus, I felt incredibly at home in Cambridge.I couldn’t believe how rich in history, but also how liveable the city was.

By the second day, as I walked the halls of the Saïd Business School, Oxford, I felt like I was becoming part of the future when students and admissions staff acknowledged me with either a nod or a smile.

Allen Roberts
University of Melbourne

 

I was thoroughly impressed by Oxford.The DPhil in Zoology is an incredible program … The faculty members I met with were encouraging and supportive, and seemed genuinely interested in me and my background.

I am especially grateful to Mary Eaton, the Registrar and Director of School Affaris for the Rhodes Trust, for putting aside the time to speak with each of the Aurora Scholars and connect us with Rhodes Scholars in our respective fields.My favourite moment would have been talking with Clara Lepard, a Rhodes Scholar, who is currently studying in the Zoology Department.Clara gave me insights into the realities of studying at Oxford and useful tips for applying to the university as well as selecting a college and supervisor.

Grace Gillard
University of New England

Building a Community of Indigenous Scholars

Berkeley will always be a special place to me because of the thought-provoking conversations I have had there with other First Nations people … I had no idea about the long history of political activism especially in relation to the Native American community.  Hearing the story of the occupation of Alcatraz brought a tear to my eye.  

Annaliese McCarthy
Queenlsand University of Technology

 

At Stanford, the candour with which the Native American students spoke about their research, the University and the Native American Cultural Centre was very valuable in getting a clear picture of their experiences.Meeting students who are supported by the various scholarship bodies was also valuable in that we were able to hear firsthand about the application process, experiences of studying and make great connections for the future.The facilitation of this knowledge-sharing and networking was really well done by Joseph and is very much appreciated!

In Cambridge, I absolutely loved meeting Malcom Connolly, a Charlie Perkins Scholar, and his wife Delyna!I had a fantastic lunch with them at Darwin College where I was able to ask nitty gritty questions about studying a PhD.I don’t know anyone personally who has studied to that level before and Delyna was so open, candid and encouraging to my questions which in other spaces I might have deemed too ‘silly’ to ask.

I was also very grateful to hear another Charlie Perkins Scholar, Nina Cass’s, journey and it helped me to grapple with some of the imposter syndrome I had been dealing with over the course of this trip.

Paris Mordecai
University of Melbourne

 

I really enjoyed hearing from [a Stanford student] Caroline, who shared her experience as a Native American woman at various elite schools.In retrospect, this was an early example of how hearing from students can be more insightful in first-hand experiential respects than talking with faculty or administration.

It was impressive how well-developed the Native American Cultural Centre’s space was… it was clear that Stanford had sufficient resources to dedicate to its Indigenous centre, and the atmosphere and facilities at the NACC were commensurably comfortable.

My favourite moment was walking around campus with a Maori Fulbright Scholar.This was great because he described his life at Stanford and his impressions of the culture very honestly.

Ganur Maynard
University of New South Wales

 

I particularly enjoyed my time at Harvard’s Native American Centre, HUNAP.As an Aboriginal and Maori person, it was wonderful to know that so many First Nations peoples found a home at the centre and a family with the staff.This aspect of the university is incredibly important to me – it felt like a safe and welcoming space that I could fit in, learn from and contribute to.

Latoya Rule
Flinders University

 

The Native American Program, HUNAP, also felt like a safe-haven.Having an inclusive Indigenous space like this to go to while studying is incredibly important to me as it was integral to my success as an undergraduate.

Riana Tatana
Deakin University
University of New South Wales

 

In NYC, I appreciated that Mulan and Joe opened up their house for us and for other people to come to the reception and meet with us.I felt privileged that I was able to share my story…I grew that night because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and spoke even though I was nervous.I also gained insight from Blayne Welsh and Graham Akhurst who had previously been on the Study Tour and are now studying in NY.They explained application and scholarship information and also Indigenous identity in this space.

Danika Watson
University of Southern Queensland

 

My favourite moment at Cambridge was walking through Trinity College, where one of my heroes, Lilly Brown, underwent an MPhil in Education, as the first Indigenous Australian person to study there.Looking across the walls and ceilings of that college, I tried to position myself in Lilly’s shoes, and imagine the feeling of the gravity of such a journey.I felt closer to the bigger story at that point and comprehend and admire the strength of Lilly and all Indigenous people who have gone on to undergo postgraduate study in the UK and USA.

Dakota Feirer
University of Wollongong

NY Reception
Rhianna Brickle, Annaliese McCarthy, Candice Bowditch, Riana Tatana and Shanysa McConville in Oxford
Meeting [Native American] students who are supported by the various scholarship bodies was also valuable in that we were able to hear firsthand about the application process, experiences of studying and make great connections for the future.
Paris Mordecai
Grace Gillard speaking at Australia House

A Native American guest speaker, Richard Grounds, was visiting the Harvard Divinity School and I had the opportunity to attend his event.  Hearing someone so amazing speak on incredibly important topics around language, colonialism and genocide in America furthered my drive to learn and grow in myself to make as much difference as I can in community back home.  

Rhianna Brickle
Deakin University
University of Tasmania

 

The reception at Australia House was a great event and I really enjoyed meeting past Scholars and hearing about their pathways to overseas study.Hamish Fejo was kind enough to invite some other Scholars and me to the repatriation of Gangalidda Garawa artefacts on Friday 22nd November at Australia House.I was able to attend this event with Malcolm Connolly, a current Charlie Perkins Scholar, and some other Aurora Scholars.I found this so moving and such an important moment for the peoples of this nation – to return their cultural property back to their Country where it belongs.

The most important aspects of the Study Tour were meeting the current Scholars and Aurora alumni, understanding their personal journey and their hardships.

The NY Reception Event was one of my favourite moments…I loved meeting the hosts, and mingling with former Scholars.I appreciated everyone getting up and sharing their stories.Furthermore, it was important for me to use this time to reflect and consider my options and what I needed to do to get where I want to be… This week in NY provided the time to decant and process that experience.

Then at Australia House … it was such a rare experience to have 3 Darwin-born Larrakia in London, let alone at Australia House.We were laughing with a shared understanding that we had implicitly defied such low expectations, and yet found ourselves circumstantially together in such an extraordinary situation.

Candice Bowditch
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

My favourite moment at Cambridge was walking through Trinity College, where one of my heroes, Lilly Brown, underwent an MPhil in Education, as the first Indigenous Australian person to study there. Looking across the walls and ceilings of that college, I tried to position myself in Lilly's shoes, and imagine the feeling of the gravity of such a journey.

Dakota Feirer

The 2019 Study Tour would not be possible without the generous support of the following:

Government

Proudly funded by the Australian Government

 

Universities

Australian National University

Columbia University

Deakin University

Flinders University

Griffith University

Harvard University

London School of Economics

Monash University

New York University

Queensland University of Technology

Stanford University

University of California, Berkeley

University of New England

University of New South Wales

University of Southern Queensland

University of Tasmania

University of Wollongong

Colleges

Christ’s College, Cambridge

Jesus College, Oxford

Magdalen College, Oxford

 

Trusts, Foundations and Other Organisations

Charlie Perkins Scholarship Trust

Katrina Dawson Foundation

Rhodes House, Oxford

Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation

Snow Foundation

 

Individuals

Mulan Ashwin and Joe Rinaldi

Patrick Loftus-Hills & Konnin Tam

We acknowledge Tim and Sally Sims for their visionary support  and investment in the Study Tour since the early days.