Murdoch University students Brianna Fisher and Daniella Deary have been given the opportunity of a lifetime to live, study and intern overseas after each being awarded a New Columbo Plan scholarship from the Australian government.
Established by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2014, the New Columbo Plan encourages a two-way flow of students between Australia and the rest of the Indo-Pacific region, and today supports students to study and undertake internships in 40 locations from Malaysia in the west to Mongolia in the north, and the Cook Islands in the east.
Next year Brianna will travel to Singapore, and Daniella Deary to Fiji, to further their studies and careers.
Having recently finished a double degree in Law and Criminology, Brianna will complete Honours in Criminology at the National University of Singapore where she will analyse the sociocultural influences on the rate of crime in Singapore and Australia before completing an internship with the Singapore Police Force.
“I chose Singapore because of their low rate of crime and the way they have achieved this in such a multicultural and young country,” Brianna said.
“Similar in many ways to Australia, I wanted to better understand how each country has developed their approaches to crime prevention and justice.”
Brianna said the scholarship would allow her to undertake research into the culture of Singapore while also experiencing it for herself.
“It is an amazing opportunity to work with different experts overseas and establish connections in the field I am interested in,” she said.
“I have always wanted to work in either international law or crime prevention, and I have also always wanted to live overseas and learn another language, an experience the scholarship also provides.”
Next year she will study Environmental Science and Marine Science at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and plans on undertaking a mentorship with a research scientist on campus followed by an internship.
Daniella said she chose to study in Fiji because it contains a wealth of biodiversity, from coral reefs to forests but is heavily threatened by climate change.
“I think it would be an incredible opportunity to study marine biology on an island as well as learn about the effects of climate change and how Pacific regions are managing it,” she said.
“I hope to gain a different insight to the issues and challenges faced in other countries compared to Australia and learn more about Australia’s relationships with regions in the Indo-Pacific.
“I also hope to create ongoing networks or connections between Australian and Fijian institutions in the field.”
Acting Manager of Murdoch’s International Relations and Programs, Serena Baptist, said the scholarship program, one of Australia’s most prestigious, provides a significant opportunity to undergraduate students in Australia.
“The New Colombo Plan aims to lift knowledge in Australia of the Indo-Pacific region by supporting students to not only study, but undertake language training and internships,” she said.
“The ever-growing alumni network also offers scholars the opportunity to continue to develop their knowledge of and professional links with the Indo-Pacific region.
“I thoroughly enjoy supporting these students who are driven and inspired to make change and to continue their learning journey outside the bounds of their Murdoch degree.”
Following a rigorous selection process,150 Australian scholars will live, study and intern across 24 host locations in 2023.
“I think the scholarship will open up so many opportunities in my career, enrich my learning experience and widen my network of friends and colleagues,” Daniella said.
Brianna said finding out she had received the scholarship was surreal, particularly since she is due to depart next month.
“I cannot wait to begin, I think it will help me to learn a lot about myself, not just about the career I might want to pursue upon my return," she said.
"It will no doubt be a very challenging but rewarding experience."