The unique beauty of Armidale can be found in places you’d least expect. Like at the train station early in the morning, as passengers eagerly await departure time.
As the coffees slowly arrive at our tables at Booloominbah and each careful sip leaves white froth on our lips, we become united as a community. We are the ‘Get Published’ community, a group of eight student authors with the unique opportunity to publish an article collaboratively in a peer reviewed journal. This community is a creative and supportive learning environment that will record our individual and collective stories during our time at URSS through critical reflection, writing as a form of inquiry and collective biography. But not without copious amounts of coffee, of course!
From the moment our shoes and socks came off, each person in the room was free! Free to be silly, playful, naughty. Free to make funny noises and strange body movements. Free to be a child again. Oh what a spectacle! As we relaxed and became comfortable around a roomful of strangers, we also wondered what was the point in all this? Except to liberate our stinky feet from the shackles of footwear. I’ll let the picture below speak for itself.
After preparing a short speech about my newly acquired identity as a ‘nomadic scholar’ during our Breakfasts at Booloominbah, I decided to throw it all out the window on the morning of the Get Published presentation. As I sat and listened to the many words of wisdom and inspiration from our learned panelists that day, it was clear to me that there was another story I wanted to tell. A story I had not yet shared with many people, let alone the URSS community, or even my ‘sisters’ at breakfast. So I started the speech again from scratch during the morning tea and composed the following. About two months ago I received an email from UNE saying that I’ve been recognised as a Vice Chancellor’s Scholar. At first I thought it was just another Spam email from the uni. But just when I was about to click on the Delete button to send it to Trash, the following line caught my eye, “You have achieved an outstanding result with a GPA of 6.7 or above.” So I read on. It turns out the Vice Chancellor’s Scholars Program acknowledges the top 150 on-campus and off-campus students with an awards ceremony in November and placed on an Honour Roll. VC Scholars can be of any age and at any stage of their degree. I thought WOW! I’m so glad this didn’t go straight to Junk Mail. But apart from the recognition for a job well done, the program entitled me to apply for scholarships. As VC Scholars, we are eligible to apply for three different scholarships: 1. Engagement Award valued at $4000 2. Academic Development Award worth $1000 3. School of Science and Technology Special Project, which is a 4-week research traineeship in Armidale valued at $4000
I was lucky enough to receive the third award. Here’s a picture of me with Jim Barber, our beloved Vice Chancellor, along with Jacqui who received the Engagement Award and Josh who won the Academic Development Award. With this scholarship money, Jacqui will be going to York in the UK for an overseas placement working alongside historians and curators to learn about heritage management and interpreting Viking archaeology to the public. Meanwhile, Josh will be travelling to Japan to attend a linguistics conference as part his arts/languages degree. I, on the other hand, will be working with Dr Erica Smith of the Chemistry department to work on computer modelling and simulation of biomolecular systems, in particular the structural and thermodynamic properties of proteins. But these awards and scholarships weren’t just handed to us on a silver platter. It was A LOT of hard work and dedication to achieve these results. Not to mention how much I agonised painstakingly over filling in the scholarship application forms. In the end though, the blood, sweat and tears were certainly worth it. It has brought me here to the Undergraduate Research Summer School, which has been a wonderful and eye-opening experience, and I’m sure everyone in this room will agree. So on behalf of all of us, I’d like to thank our organisers, Jennifer, Adele and Sarah for hosting such a fabulous event which, not only has enlightened me on what it means to be a researcher, but has enriched my life in ways I never thought imaginable. On the last day of URSS, it was cheesy smiles all around…