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Hannah Dawson: Aurora Indigenous Scholar

HerCanberra Team

From Asia and the Pacific’s leading public policy school to some of Europe and the United States’ oldest and best known universities – Crawford School graduate Hannah Dawson is set for the trip of a lifetime.

Master of Public Policy alumna Hannah Dawson has been selected to join the five-week Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour in October this year.

The tour takes Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander university students and graduates to visit leading universities in the UK and US – Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Cambridge and Oxford.

“It’s like an international open day – I get to meet with key academics and administrators at each university in the areas of my interests. Plus, I get to share this incredible journey with a growing community of Indigenous scholars from all over Australia,” said Hannah. “I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity which has made me realise that studying at one of these universities is not out of reach – especially now that I have a Crawford degree under my belt.”

While studying at Crawford School, Hannah was also the recipient of the Garrurru Postgraduate Indigenous Scholarship – which provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with an upfront, cash payment of $2,500 for each subject studied, up to a total value of $20,000.

This financial assistance encouraged Hannah to leave her position in the public service to completely focus on her studies.“With the financial and scholarly support provided by the scholarship, I had the freedom to realise my full potential at university,” she said.“It’s been life-changing—it’s led to opportunities like the Study Tour.”

“There is a real collegial atmosphere here at Crawford where there is a genuine exchange of ideas between lecturers and students from all over the world. That provided such an enriching learning experience for me.”

The scholarship and Crawford academics helped her find what she was really passionate about. “Throughout my career and studies so far, I’ve been drawn closer to the earlier stages of the ‘policy cycle’. At Crawford I realised that I wanted to play a role in an early stage of this cycle—policy formulation.”

“Critical to policy formulation is research and research is where my heart lies.”

Hannah is inspired by many people but two in particular really stand out – Jimmie Barker, her great-grandfather who only experienced a few years of basic schooling growing up on an Aboriginal Mission in the early 1900s and Charlie Perkins, who in 1966 was the first Aboriginal Australian to graduate from university. “I have been overwhelmed to experience the privilege of a formal education. Generations before mine like those of Grandfather Barker and Charlie Perkins have persevered to make this happen for the generation of today and beyond,” she said.

“That is why I want to use my education to give back to the community and be part of the forces that change the direction of public policy.”

Even though this is her fourth degree, she still has aspirations for further study, possibly at Oxford or Cambridge – but she still sees Crawford in her future. “Crawford gave me the perfect blend of academic and professional content that will aid me in further studies overseas.”

“But my aim is to return to Australia with a MPhil or PhD and give back with the skills I have learnt abroad. I think I would pinch myself if I found that I was behind a lectern here at Crawford in the future.”

Find out where an ANU postgraduate qualification can take you at the Online Postgraduate Information session.

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