Manila, Suva beckon for ACU’s New Colombo scholars

Crossing the Swansea Bridge at the entrance to Lake Macquarie was once a source of adventure for Danielle Lamborn.

The ACU student’s horizon is soon to become infinitely more expansive after being awarded a prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarship to study in the Philippines.

ACU has for the first time had two undergraduates, Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts student Ms Lamborn and Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts student Rachel Spackman, receive the scholarships which provide opportunities to immerse themselves in Indo-Pacific cultures, learn languages, further their studies and gain work experience.

“I’m so grateful, excited and a little scared to be honest,” Ms Lamborn said.

“This will be transformational for me.”

The New Colombo Plan (NCP) was set up by the Australian government to increase knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduate students to study and undertake internships in the region.

The NCP selected 125 of Australia’s best and brightest undergraduates from all universities across the country. In 2020, around a third of scholars are from regional and rural areas, a quarter are the first in their family to have studied at university, and more than half are women.

ACU Associate Director, International Relations and Partnerships, Kirk Doyle said the initiative facilitated more diverse and sustainable engagement with Australia’s neighbours.

“The NCP Scholarship funds students for up to a full year of studies abroad. This gives each scholar an opportunity to connect with people in their host country in a much deeper and more meaningful way than they could ever achieve through a short-term learning abroad experience. Danielle and Rachel will return home with a level of cultural understanding and international experience that most of us could spend our whole careers hoping to achieve. Its these skills and experiences that will help them develop as thoughtful and engaging lawyers, teachers - and perhaps social advocates.

Ms Spackman, from Brisbane, will undertake studies and a teaching placement at the University of South Pacific in Fiji. She was accepted as a Golden Key Honours Society member in 2017 and awarded the Executive Dean’s Commendation for academic excellence in 2018.

Ms Lamborn will study at the Loyola Law School at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. In recognition that she was the most outstanding scholarship candidate for her chosen host country, she has also been selected as the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan “Fellow” for the Philippines and will act as the program ambassador.

The fourth-year student volunteered with ACU’s Refugee Law Project which offers support to asylum seekers who are considering taking their cases to court.

While in Manila, she plans to advance her knowledge of environmental law within the context of the agrarian reform that is shaping the Philippines economy.

“They have a different history, different land demands, and I’m really excited to see what strategies they’re using,” Ms Lamborn said.

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