Recently, Tim and Sally Sims generously agreed to fund the cost of sending two Charlie Perkins Scholarship applicants to spend a week at Oxford and Cambridge universities in November 2011.
A few weeks later, the Trust circulated an email about an opportunity for one or two outstanding Indigenous undergraduates (Distinction average or better) to join the Charlie Perkins Scholarship applicants for the trip. We see this as an important step in nurturing Indigenous students who have the potential to become Charlie Perkins Scholars.
The response was fantastic – 44 students applied for the trip. Tim, who is an Oxford alumnus, was so impressed with the calibre of the students that he agreed to increase their support to enable a number of current undergraduates to also make the trip.
In addition, Griffith University Law School, the University of Tasmania, Victoria University and a number of philanthropists from the Australian Communities Foundation, agreed to provide support to enable additional students to make the trip.
Another nice part of this story occurred at the recent 2011 Charlie Perkins Oration. MC Jeff McMullen challenged the audience to assist the students and said he would match their contribution. Through the support of various academics at Sydney University (matched by Jeff), enough money was raised for the final undergraduate to be able to go.
To give a sense of their calibre, the top 11 undergraduates (10 female, one male) have 125 High Distinctions, 133 Distinctions and 32 Credits among them. They will now join three Charlie Perkins Scholarship applicants travelling to the UK on 10 November 2011.
The 14 members of the group will stay at Rhodes House and Balliol, Keble, Linacre, Trinity and Wolfson Colleges in Oxford, and Darwin, King’s, St Edmund’s and Wolfson Colleges in Cambridge. They will meet with current students (including Charlie Perkins, Rhodes Scholars, Clarendon Scholars and Cambridge Australia Scholars) and potential supervisors, and also administrators who can advise on how to navigate the process of getting in to Oxford and Cambridge.
The will arrive in Oxford on 11 November, and on the following day, Rebecca Richards, the first Indigenous Rhodes Scholar, will take the students around the Pitt Rivers Museum. During their stay in Oxford, they will also dine at formal hall at Keble College and will meet with Lady Elizabeth Roberts (originally from Australia), whose is Dean of Studies of the Weidenfeld Scholarships and whose husband is the President of Trinity College.
Don Markwell, the (Australian) Warden of Rhodes House, is not only housing some of the students at Rhodes House but is generously hosting a function at Rhodes House for the group on 15 November.
In Cambridge, the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust is kindly hosting a tea for the group on 13 November, where they will meet a number of Cambridge Australia Scholars.
They will be in London on 14 November for a reception at the Australian High Commission, hosted by the Deputy High Commissioner, Adam McCarthy.
In addition to identifying and raising aspirations in potential applicants for Charlie Perkins and other overseas scholarships, we expect that the trip will result in the creation of lasting friendships among a group of outstanding Indigenous students, who will support each other as they move forward in their careers.
In the coming weeks we will provide updates on how the trip has gone.