Mildura students win prestigious awards

Mildura students win prestigious awards

16 Jan 2009

Mildura mature-age students win scholarship and accolades at prestigious European Union Summer School 

Anne Webster (left) with Glenda UnderhillLa Trobe University (Mildura) mature age students Anne Webster and Glenda Underhill show that age is no barrier when it comes to learning and making long term goals. Since returning to University the pair have excelled in their chosen courses as well as taking part in many extra curricular activities. Showing that nothing will stop them in their tracks, Anne and Glenda recently returned from the prestigious European Union Summer School on Human Rights at the Australian National University, Canberra.

These Mildura students were two of only 20 students from Australian and overseas universities who were accepted into the summer school program.

Two other La Trobe students, Leigh Howard and Wendy White, were also selected to attend the program.

Getting into the program was a remarkable achievement itself, as most of the students applying had either Honours or Masters level.
Jennifer Hamilton-McKenzie, a La Trobe University History teacher (who taught the pair the European Union subject)  had confidence in the abilities of her students and encouraged them to apply. They were  accepted because their grades were high and their applications impressive.

The 2008 delegation of selected students for the European Union Summer School on Human Rights included students from the UK, Singapore, Copenhagen and New Zealand and diverse universities including Oxford. La Trobe University is always well represented at this Summer School.

Growing up in Mildura, Glenda has been actively involved in her community working as a palliative care volunteer for many years. She is interested in human rights and social justice and has excelled in European Studies, achieving the top mark in her year level in European Studies for the entire University in September 2008.  

In Canberra, Glenda presented her research paper on the plight of human trafficking, which she developed a passion for while researching gender equality for her European Union studies.

'The Summer School was a great opportunity to interact with international university students, to see how we ranked coming from a rural campus and benchmark our own academic standard against theirs,' says Glenda.   

Anne Webster found that interacting with other students at the European Union Summer school also instilled her with confidence in the quality of her rural education.

'For a rural community, we can sometimes feel we are out in the backwash, sort of second best. But to stand along side other university students from institutions such as Oxford was thrilling.'

The Mildura students not only participated in the Summer School, they excelled.

Annes  research proposal won the European Union Summer Schools Academic Award, a significant honour on two accounts: the Summer School was geared to postgraduate students doing Honors, Masters or PhDs, whereas she is an undergrad having completed second year (there were 4 out of 21 in this position); and secondly her research proposal on Options for resolution of unplanned pregnancy and fetal personhood  was highly valued and will now  be a part of the Cultural Conversations Series 2009 at La Trobe Universitys Mildura campus.

Anne says she feels honoured that her research proposal has been chosen to be a part of the new series. 'Although I feel rather daunted by the prospect,' she says of her research.

'I just remember that I am an undergraduate, which makes winning the Academic Award in Canberra so incredible. I am conscious that my research is against the flow of what is currently politically correct.'

The motive behind her research, Anne says, is the drive to make a practical difference to the local community and open the dialogue on an important but sensitive issue.

'I am particularly aware that I need the right qualifications to achieve my goals,' she says. Nearing 50, Anne agrees with Glenda that it is never to late to go back to study.

'My personal philosophy is that with the current economic situation, many people will not be retiring at 55 and still may have 30 years of service that can be put to the benefit of the community.'

'And life experience certainly gives a mature age student advantages when it comes to study,' she says.

Photographs of Anne and Glenda with their Summer School certificates and Awards are available on request

Media enquires: Mikhaela Delahunty on 03 9479 5353

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