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News > Past Student News > OGA Overseas Study Scholarship Recipients – Where are they now?

OGA Overseas Study Scholarship Recipients – Where are they now?

After a few years hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the St Margaret's Old Girls' Association is pleased to relaunch the OGA Overseas Study Scholarship.   
Kate Goodfruit ('14), 2016-2017 Scholarship recipient
Kate Goodfruit ('14), 2016-2017 Scholarship recipient

We took a moment to catch up with a few previous scholarship recipients to find out how their participation in global experiences opened the door to a world of opportunities.  

Kate Goodfruit (’14)Kate Goodfruit ('14) on exchange in Japan

2016-2017 Scholarship recipient
Then:   UQ Exchange student to Kyushu University, Japan
Now:    Australian Diplomat, Australian Embassy, Jakarta.

Where are you today?

I currently work as an Australian diplomat at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta where I lead on Australia’s economic cooperation and trade relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – a political and economic union of ten member states in Southeast Asia.

My role involves working with counterparts from foreign governments, the private sector, academia and think tanks to support stronger economic relations between Australia and ASEAN while reporting back to the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, where I'm based. My love for exploring new cultures, languages, and countries, complemented by my passion for international relations, inspired me to pursue a career in diplomacy – interests that stemmed from my experience as a Year 10 St Margaret’s exchange student in Japan!

What steps have you taken to reach where you are today?

After graduating from St Margaret’s, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in foreign affairs and diplomacy that also supported me to learn about countries and cultures. Consequently, I decided to study a Bachelor of International Studies, majoring in International Relations and Japanese language, at The University of Queensland. This degree was quintessential in meeting all my study and longer-term career objectives. The degree also involved a compulsory language semester abroad, of which I undertook in Japan supported by St Margaret’s and the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program. This phenomenal experience reinforced my ambition to work in diplomacy.

Which global program did you participate in?

I participated in Kyushu University’s Japan in Today’s World (JTW) student exchange program, which incorporated both Japanese language and cultural courses. A key reason I was inspired to participate in this program was the high degree of complementarity between my studies in Australia and what I could complete at Kyushu University. The program not only offered me the ability to dramatically improve my Japanese language skills, it also provided me the opportunity to explore Japan’s position in global strategic affairs and contemporary diplomatic debate. This, coupled with the opportunity to explore a less tourist-dense corner of Japan and therefore fully immerse myself in the culture and language, was a major benefit participating in this program.

How did the course benefit your career, influence your future ambitions or personal growth?

The course was incredibly influential in reinforcing my career ambitions and desire to work in foreign policy. The opportunity afforded to me by St Margaret’s and the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan Scholarship program also enabled me to undertake short internships at organisations including the Australian Embassy in Tokyo at the conclusion of my study. As such, upon returning to Australia at the conclusion of my program, I had significantly strengthened my language abilities, intercultural communication and diplomatic skills. In turn, these experiences were instrumental for my career in the long run. 

Were there particular people or mentors who supported you along your career trajectory and what was the value they added?

I have been very fortunate to have fantastic mentors and peers who have supported me throughout my personal and professional trajectory. This includes the excellent teaching staff at St Margaret’s, many of whom I remember fondly for their consistent dedication to helping students achieve their goals. My mentors and peers supported me throughout my school years, into university and to this day. The advice, guidance and lessons that mentors and peers have imparted on me have ultimately been instrumental in inspiring me to have the self-confidence and resilience to work hard and get where I am in my career today.

Prudence Burnett (’13)Prudence Burnett ('13) while on exchange in Canada in the ski fields

2016-2017 Scholarship recipient
Then:   UQ Exchange student to McGill University, Canada.
Now:    Offshore Field Engineer, Shell Australia 

Where are you today?

I am working for Shell Australia on their Prelude FLNG asset – a floating gas facility about 450km off the coast of Broome in the Indian Ocean. The facility produces LNG, LPG and condensate products.

My role is Offshore Field Engineer – I focus on optimising product quality and quantity. Working offshore gives me the opportunity to understand operational strategy, production support expectations and FLNG facility integration.  

How did you get there?

I completed the vacation program with Shell at QCLNG in Gladstone while studying a Bachelor of Engineering / Commerce at The University of Queensland. When I graduated, I was relocated to Perth to work on the Prelude project as a young process engineer.  

Which global program did you participate in?

I participated in UQ’s Semester-based Exchange Program at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. McGill has a well-regarded chemical engineering program – it attracts students from around the world, allowing for a diverse experience and community.  

How did the course benefit your career, influence your future ambitions or personal growth?

Completing the exchange semester at McGill University reinstated the importance of resilience, communication and teamwork. These skills are essential in my current role as a young engineer working in a fast-paced, male-dominated major hazard facility.  

Were there people who supported you along your career trajectory?

I’ve had support from several mentors across various industries. Each have added value through their differing experiences, perspectives and approach to solving problems!

Isabelle Harris (’13)Isabelle Harris profile photo

2017-2018 Scholarship recipient
Then: QUT Exchange student to The University of Leeds, UK
Now: PhD Candidate, The University of Melbourne

Where are you today?

My PhD project uses novel-multidisciplinary approaches to engineer a theoretical framework to better understand the relationship between patient specific (epileptic) networks and their dynamics, thereby assisting our understanding of neuroscience and the development of therapeutic treatments and interventions e.g. seizure biomarkers. A project like this involves generating results that are original and  fill an important gap in our current knowledge and understanding of the problem.

I wanted to pursue a research higher degree primarily because of the research problem. I am in a unique position to use my skills in mathematics and IT to address practical health problems involving understanding and treating epilepsy.

I am affiliated with Biomedical Engineering, University of Melbourne, the Graeme Clark Institute, University of Melbourne and St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. These affiliations allow me to work and collaborate with many different researchers across two different campuses here in Melbourne. External to these collaborations, I have presented my research at four international conferences, and have just been selected for a fifth in Canada this March. Through these conferences I have met and set up research collaborations with many academics internationally. This is hands down one of the most exciting parts of what I do.

How did you get there?

In 2017, I completed my Bachelor's degrees in Mathematics and Physics at QUT, and though I was passionate about the study of mathematics and/or physics, I knew I wanted to apply the skills I had acquired to a `real-world' problem.

I started working as a research assistant in the Systems Neuroscience Group at QIMR and found that I had a great interest in using multidisciplinary techniques to model brain function and more importantly brain dysfunction. Pursuing a postgraduate research degree, I reached out to a few neuroscience institutes and through this I met Dr Andre Peterson at the end of 2017.

We had very similar visions on how to formulate and translate theoretical models to be used in all of the neuroscience disciplines, particularly in regard to studying brain disease. I moved down to Melbourne to commence my MSc of Biomedical Science at the Department of Medicine, UoM and Clinical Neurosciences at St Vincent's Hospital in mid-2018, supervised by Prof. Anthony Burkitt, and Dr Andre Peterson.

My MSc thesis was on the use of novel-multidisciplinary modelling techniques to understand the transition to seizure in epilepsy patients. The focus of this work was to begin formulating a framework to study how patient specific networks influence the transition to seizure. This MSc project was the ideal foundation for my PhD project, and Biomedical Engineering the next, most natural fit for my research interests.

I chose to move to Biomedical Engineering as it brings together my quantitative skills in mathematics and computing, and understanding of the physical and biomedical sciences to address practical health problems involving the understanding and treating of epilepsy.

Which global program did you participate in?

I participated in the QUT Undergraduate Exchange Program in 2017. I was lucky enough to study Mathematics and Physics at the University of Leeds UK. I was drawn to the program because I wanted to study overseas and have a different university experience (and I just wanted to travel the world).

The experience on exchange was a pivotal moment in my life. Being so far away from family and friends, it gave me the time to reflect on what I wanted for my future. I realised that not only did I want to experience culture, art, and passion, I wanted to be a part of a culture that creates art with immense passion. I found that within this PhD. My PhD requires an immense amount of creativity and passion to not only generate novel solutions to such a complex problem, but to communicate these solutions to a variety of different audiences. In my opinion science and art are not dichotomous academic disciplines but rather should be united, for when they are, many advances are made.

Were there people who supported you along your career trajectory?

Dr Andre Peterson was and has been the most inspiring, accessible and supportive supervisor and mentor. Working with Andre has given me the freedom to shape my PhD project and follow my intuition when it comes to solving complex multidisciplinary problems in neuroscience.

Dr Peterson has had such a positive influence on my life and I have learnt significantly from him as a supervisor, yet what has impacted me most are all the talents and abilities he has helped me discover about myself.

By Georgia Mitchell
Manager – Development and Community

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