Journey of a lifetime for indigenous UON student

UON student Ren Allan is about to embark on this year’s Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour. Along with 17 other high achieving Indigenous students from around Australia, Ren will be able to experience what postgraduate study would be like at a prestigious overseas institution.

Ren is a Kamilaroi woman of Tamworth and is in her final semester of a Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in Aboriginal Studies, Community Welfare and Human Services.

Fully supported by the Aurora Project, Ren will be travelling to the UK and USA, visiting seven of the world’s most renowned universities including Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and Cambridge.

“Having such a great opportunity to go overseas and see some of these institutions is so exciting. I never ever thought I would get to go to Harvard, it just seems so out of reach but it’s not – it’s happening in a few weeks,” said Ren.

The Study Tour will enable Ren to meet personally with academics at each institution to discuss courses and current research happening in her area of interest.

“There are lots of initiatives overseas for Indigenous people that I think we can learn from so I’m looking forward to seeing what programs and policies these universities have in terms of equity and what successes they’ve had. I’m also excited to meet the other Indigenous students and find out what kind of experiences they’ve had growing up,” said Ren.

When recipients return home they have the opportunity to apply for postgraduate study at the institution of their preference and apply for a range of supporting scholarships offered by the Aurora Project.

“I’ll definitely be putting an application in once I’ve decided which university I’d like to study at. I’m looking at Masters Programs in International and Comparative Education. If I am given the next part of the scholarship it would be money really well spent because I would try and help so many people achieve their goals and show them that education is not out of reach,” said Ren.

“There’s still so much that needs to change and it’s important we have Aboriginal people working on Aboriginal programs because cultural competence and awareness is still lacking in so many areas,” she added.

Ren’s passion for helping people began in Year 11 while studying Community and Family Studies which led her to become the first in her family to attend university. Ren is also involved with the AIM HIGH program at UON that works closely with schools from low socio-economic communities in the Hunter and Central Coast regions to increase access to and participation in higher education.

Being able to experience a range of equity programs from all aspects, from development through to delivery, has reaffirmed her desire to one day develop programs specifically for Indigenous and first-in-family students.

“I was able to travel to the Northern Territory with AIM HIGH and it was the most rewarding experience. It reinforced my passion by just seeing that there are a lot of people who need help and that I’m lucky to be given such a great opportunity to do that,” she said.

Through the Aurora Project and her own hard work and dedication, Ren is now one step closer to reaching her goals.

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