A MID North student has been awarded a national scholarship to help fulfill her dreams of working for the United Nations.
Ella Graham, who is in her first year of a Bachelor of Law and International Development at the University of Adelaide, was awarded the CAS Hawker scholarship earlier this month.
She graduated from Booleroo Centre District School in 2015 with an ATAR of 99.95 – in the top 26 students in SA.
Ella spent four months last year in an east African village, volunteering as a teacher in Chimbowi, Malawi, teaching English and life skills. The school had about 1000 students, with eight full-time Malawi teachers and two volunteer teachers on a revolving basis.
In part, Ella said her trip to Malawi was inspired after her family home was destroyed in the 2014 Bangor fire.
“It was insane how (my family) lost everything but in a matter of days we already had more than some people have in their lives,” she said.
“I’m so fortunate to live in a country like Australia and so grateful.”
She said this was part of what drove her to do something “meaningful” during her gap year, but said her parents had also raised her with a passion for social justice.
In her final year at school, Ella was also one of 40 winners Australia-wide to take part in ABC Radio’s Heywire program, which she described as an “incredible experience”.
“It was so inspiring to meet so many like-minded people,” she said.
Ella said education, particularly in rural Australia, was a particular passion of hers, leading her to be grouped with three other young women who also shared this interest.
Together they developed the concept of educational app “Hands Up”, aimed at connecting high school students with experts in a range of fields to find out more about potential career pathways. The concept has since been taken up by the Tasmanian Leaders Organisation, based in Launceston, Tas.
“The idea behind Heywire is that rural and regional youth can drive change and our case definitely exemplifies that,” she said.
Ella said her long-term dream was to work at the United Nations, but she was also interested in working with Amnesty International or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In the meantime, she was recently accepted to a summer internship through her university’s partnership with organisation Project Everest.
In November she will return to Malawi for four to six weeks as a community consultant, to develop mutually beneficial trade opportunities for the community.
She also hopes to fundraise and return to Chimbowi for a few months.
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