Political passion leads to university success

Griffith student Eli Koops holding Pat Weller plaque.
Griffith student Eli Koops is the inaugural recipient of the Pat Weller Prize.

By Katherine Morris

Eli Koops has been named the first recipient of the Pat Weller Prize, awarded to the highest achieving student of the Introduction to Politics course at Griffith Business School.

Eli (25), who is studying Commerce and Government and International Relations, has a passion for how politics and economics influence homelessness, poverty and third world economic development.

This passion was reflected in his winning of the Pat Weller Prize, hosted by the Centre for Governance and Public Policy.

Graduating from South Side Christian College (now known as Brisbane Christian College) in 2006, Eli originally came to Griffith to study biomedical science but after a year realised it wasn’t for him and went back to the drawing board.

An opportunity to work with the Salvation Army in Melbourne arose and proved a turning point in Eli deciding the career path he wanted to take.

“Working with the homeless, the disenfranchised – especially disenfranchised youth – I wanted to find out why people are walking in the doors of homeless shelters. What is the impact of politics and economics on the cycle of poverty and homelessness,” Eli said.

After three years with the Salvation Army he felt prepared to come back to study.

“Griffith really gave me a second chance with the opportunity to come back and do this double, and the possibility of doing an honours year.

“Given my experience this path was the right one for me and allowed me to study in two areas that really complement each other, especially in the sector that I’m interested in working in.

“Economics is at the centre of everything. I’m interested in third world economic development and would definitely want to work in public policy or for an NGO.”

Eli Koops and Pat Weller with plaqueThe Pat Weller Prize was established in 2013 in honour of the Centre for Governance and Public Policy’s founding director.

The Pat Weller Prize includes $500 for the successful student and Eli’s name will be the first engraved on a plaque mounted on the wall at the School of Government and International Relations at Nathan campus.

Pat Weller is the author of a number of publications that focus on Australian Prime Ministers and cabinets, including First Among Equals (1985) and Malcom Fraser: Portrait of a Prime Minister (1989).

His most recent ARC Discovery Grant (for $269,392) sees him investigating why some Prime Ministers fail and others succeed, due to be completed in 2015.