Indigenous students receive nearly $800,000 in scholarships

Indigenous students receive nearly $800,000 in scholarships

Seven Indigenous students have been awarded nearly $800,000 in recognition of their outstanding academic achievements and commitment to continuing to give back to their communities.

The scholarships, offered by The Aurora Education Foundation (Aurora), are the largest ever since the organisation’s inception in 2006. The scholarships have been driven by a surge in Indigenous students who are interested in pursuing international study and the generosity of the Charlie Perkins Scholarship and the Roberta Sykes Scholarships, which are delivered through Aurora.

This year’s cohort includes one Charlie Perkins Scholar and six Roberta Sykes Scholars, who will journey to the likes of Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard universities to pursue their educational and career aspirations. 

Empowering tomorrow's leaders

Aurora builds a pipeline of Indigenous scholars through its International Study Tour – a fully funded, multi-week academic visits to the top universities in the United Kingdom and United States. The Study Tour is designed for students who are committed to their educational and professional journey, with Aurora supporting students from the moment they verbalise their aspirations to their graduation from University.

"Once students have expressed interest in a scholarship, staff work closely with the student to understand their specific goals and, together, define a path forward," a spokeswoman from Aurora Education Foundation told The Educator.

"We provide each scholar with access to a variety of resources designed to support them in their pursuit of excellence - this could mean giving feedback on their scholarship application, providing information on a Study Tour, academic guidance, or interview preparations for their university of choice."

The spokeswoman said Aurora's approach is successful because it "centres the scholar’s goals, experiences and perspective at every step of the journey."

"Our programs are responsive, student-centred and culturally competent. We celebrate Black Excellence in all its forms and, through our programs, encourage the education system and world-leading universities to do the same."

Ninety-four per cent of students who apply from the Aurora Study Tour are accepted at these top universities, and four of the seven students to be awarded scholarships this year participated in Aurora's Study Tour.

This year’s scholars include:

Dunghutti Gumbaynggirr woman and Charlie Perkins Scholar, Teresa Cochrane

Teresa has recently completed a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management (Honours) at Charles Sturt University. Teresa currently works at the CSIRO in the Young Indigenous Women’s STEM academy as an academic co-ordinator. This year she will move to the UK where she will study a Master of Philosophy in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management at Oxford University.

Nyiyaparli woman and Roberta Sykes Scholar, Karri Walker

Karri Walker graduated from a Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne University in 2015, before completing her Juris Doctor at Melbourne Law School in 2018. Since then, Karri has worked in the legal sector and most recently works as a Senior Lawyer at the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. She will go on to study a Master of Laws at Harvard University later this year.

Darumbal woman and Roberta Sykes Scholar, Mi-kaisha Masella

Mi-kaisha is a current New York University student and is in her final year studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Recorded Music at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Mi-kaisha has a background of working in music at both the ABC and AIME, she hopes to support the continuation of First Nations arts industries through her work.

Gija woman and Roberts Sykes Scholar, Naarah Barnes

Naarah graduated with a Bachelor of Music majoring in Voice from The University of Tasmania in 2019. Since then, she has gained extensive experience in the entertainment industry with a focus on musical theatre. With this scholarship, Naarah has her eyes set on a Master of Music Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music in the UK.

Anaiwan man and Roberta Sykes Scholar, Nicholas Harvey-Doyle

Nicholas is a student at New York University where he intends to use this scholarship, he is studying a Master of Arts in Media, Culture and Communication. Prior to this Nicholas completed a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws at the University of Newcastle. Through his study Nicholas would like to identify barriers to achieving diverse representation in media.

Bundjalung, Gumbsaynggirr man and Roberta Sykes Scholar, Dakota Feirer

In 2020 Dakota completed a Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Wollongong. Since then, he has been working at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney as Program Producer. Dakota will study a Master of Arts (Museum Studies) at New York University.

Anaiwan man and Roberta Sykes Scholar, Connor Haddad

Connor completed a Bachelor of Communication (Honours) at The University of Queensland in 2019. For the last three years he has been working in Public Policy and has developed a passion for youth justice. Connor will study a Master of Public Administration in Public Policy and Public Value at University College London.

An ongoing network of support

The spokeswoman said Aurora helps to build an ongoing network of support around the scholar through the organisation's and its Aurora Alumni Network.

"This peer support and sense of community can be a critical contributor towards scholars’ ongoing confidence and success," she said. "In the words of 2022 Charlie Perkins Scholar Ethan Taylor, 'Universities are intimidating places. But they become that much less scary when you know that Aurora has your back'".

The spokeswoman said the success of the scholarships has been evidenced through the growing number of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people graduating from the word's top universities.

"Twelve years ago, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person had never graduated from Oxford or Cambridge. Today, we’ve seen almost 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholars studying and teaching at these and similar top universities," she said.

"The impact of Aurora’s scholarship program at the individual level is ensuring Indigenous scholars who aspire to study overseas can access the resources necessary to make that a reality. The impact at the community and institutional level is a changed conversation around Indigenous education and employment to one of high expectations and possibilities."