Indigenous study tour builds on young psychologist’s dream

Rebecca Simpson

A passion for working in complex trauma populations is behind the success of Griffith Bachelor of Psychology graduate Rebecca Simpson, following her completion of the 2017 Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour.

Based on the Gold Coast, Rebecca is also a part of South Australia’s Indigenous Kaurna community and was selected for the Tour which entailed visiting the world’s most prestigious universities including Oxford and Cambridge in the UK and Harvard and Stanford in the US.

Aiming to encourage high achieving indigenous students to become post-graduates at these institutions, the initiative provides opportunities to gain insight into the realities of undertaking this kind of study. It involves meetings with key academics and current students at each university, in the area of the participants’ interest.

Application for Columbia

Now studying for the Honours component of her degree, Rebecca, says the Tour was an exceptional opportunity and introduction to the Ivy League universities. Rebecca is now applying to undertake her Clinical Psychology PhD in 2019 at Columbia University in New York.

“Columbia is an institution that not only excels in my research field of interest, it also satisfies every aspect of what I could hope a PhD program to provide,” says Rebecca who has built up her work experience with placements in areas including gender-based violence, human trafficking, asylum seekers and refugee issues.

“I have been lucky enough to participate in remarkable programs during my undergraduate studies at Griffith. In 2015 I completed a three-month Internship as an International Humanitarian Aid Worker with Red Cross International working in conjunction with the UN Women on a project to ‘Eliminate Gender Based Violence’.

“In June of 2017, I travelled to Mexico City to take part in the ‘Immigration and Human Rights in Society’ course at La Salle University in order to learn about the human rights issues and violations being experienced in Mexico. More specifically, issues facing migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking. I am forever changed by these experiences. I approach psychology and psychological research with an intellectual humility that drives me to understand the issues specific to each and every country and community I encounter, including my own.”

Rebecca says she was delighted to participate in the Aurora Study Tour, the entry criteria for which is predominantly academic performance.

“It was a tremendously rewarding opportunity both personally and academically that both exceeded my expectations and dispelled previously held beliefs about what is attainable and achievable for an indigenous student internationally. It’s important that students such as myself work to build capacity for health and education for indigenous people.”
Rebecca says she is open to further opportunities as a clinical psychologist either in her indigenous community in Adelaide or further afield internationally.