Indigenous scholarship winner explores study options overseas

Published 04 November 2019

Having completed her final exams for a Bachelor of Science, Anaiwan woman Grace Gillard is now exploring postgraduate study options in the United States of America and the United Kingdom on an Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour scholarship from the Aurora Education Foundation.

“My dream has always been to study at Cambridge University in the UK,” Grace, who studied at the University of New England, said.

“I know they have a great zoology department but being able to visit such a world-famous university to learn firsthand about what options they have available, is beyond belief.

“I found out about the scholarship last year when I saw a post about the previous recipient on the Oorala Facebook page and knew it was something I wanted to do. I am so grateful to staff from the Oorala Aboriginal Centre for supporting me in the application process.”

The five-week Aurora Study Tour develops postgraduate study opportunities for high-achieving Indigenous scholars overseas. It takes students and graduates to leading international universities such as Cambridge, London Business School, London School of Economics, and Oxford, in the UK, and Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard, New York University, and Stanford in the US – six of which recently ranked in the top 10 universities in the world.

Students are encouraged to meet with academics, administrators and current postgraduate students in their area of interest

“I did a lot of research on academics who work in the fields I’m interested in – mostly conservation biology and ecology, herpetology and ornithology – at Cambridge and Oxford. I emailed them to set up meetings and have had plenty of positive responses, especially from Oxford.”

Grace is currently in the USA and very impressed with the university programs on offer.

“A highlight was to meet the Native American graduate students at Berkeley. We shared our personal stories and life experiences to gain an understanding and appreciation for the parallels between our cultures,” Grace said.

“The campus environment was welcoming and seemingly diverse, which made me feel as though I belong. It definitely exceeded my expectations.”

Grace is the second UNE Indigenous student to receive the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour scholarship after Eliza Barnett in 2018.

Grace has previously won the Oorala Merit Prize for students in the Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business and Law in 2018. In addition to her academic achievements, she is a talented violin and piano player, and was, until recently, a member of the Tamworth Musical Society Orchestra.

For more information about eligibility criteria and application dates for the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour, go to