A total of six Griffith University staff, students and alumni have won prestigious Churchill Fellowships.
The Fellowships are awarded each year across diverse fields, from health to the arts and music, business, sport, science and more. Recipients are given up to two months overseas to explore a topic or issue they are passionate about.
For Adjunct Assistant Professor Nick Marshall, the Fellowship has capped off a remarkable year. In 2020, Nick was named Australian of the Year – Local Hero and won Griffith University’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, announced in September.
The Master of Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy alumnus won the Rodney Warmington Churchill Fellowship to improve community inclusion and reduce social isolation for people with special needs.
Nick created Albatross Nippers, an all-inclusive junior lifesaving program for children with special needs which has grown from a small local project on the Gold Coast to wider acclaim.
As part of the Churchill Fellowship, Nick will travel to the US to study Hawaii’s all-access beach program and buddy programs for special needs students in universities across America.
“It’s been a massive learning curve for me,” he said.
“My real job is a sports physio for elite athletes, but this has been such a rewarding journey.
“The Fellowship is a huge honour, and I’m keen to bring back everything I learn in the US.”
Queensland Conservatorium alumnus and jazz lecturer Kristin Berardi was awarded the Mr and Mrs Gerald Frank New Churchill Fellowship, which will allow her to travel to Germany, Austria and the US to study with the world’s top singers and composers.
Originally from a small country town in North Queensland, Kristin completed a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music Studies at the Queensland Conservatorium, studying with legendary vocal coach Dr Irene Bartlett.
As one of the world’s top jazz vocalists, Kristin is also a past recipient of the Montreux Jazz Festival’s International Vocal Competition and the National Jazz Award.
“The Fellowship will allow me to study with jazz arrangers, songwriters and singers – it’s an amazing gift to be able to follow your passion,” she said.
“As a musician, I don’t think you ever stop learning. This will give me new things in my toolbox to bring back to my students at the Queensland Conservatorium.”
Griffith Film School alumnus Cameron Cliff won the James Love Churchill Fellowship to improve training in Australian workplaces to prevent domestic violence.
A member of the Honours College, Cameron completed a Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production at Griffith University before pursuing social impact projects.
He will visit New Zealand, US, Canada, the UK and Finland as part of the Fellowship.
“Studying at Griffith and being part of the Honours College really opened my eyes to what I could do with my filmmaking and storytelling skills,” he said.
“I’m keen to learn everything I can overseas, and then come back and pass on those skills to people in local charities and non-profits.
“My ultimate goal is to create stories that really make a difference.”
Griffith Business School PhD candidate Haydn McComas will explore how to teach leadership skills to volunteer firefighters by undertaking research in France, Denmark, Canada, US and New Zealand.
A volunteer firefighter with the South Australian Country Fire Service since 2012, Haydn has witnessed frontline leadership from uniquely challenging perspectives. During last summer’s catastrophic bushfires, Haydn was on the frontline in NSW, the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island.
“I’m keen to use the Fellowship to learn how to help volunteers to become leaders – something that is often lost in the noise,” he said.
“If we send our volunteers into incredibly complex, stressful environments, we have an obligation to prepare them properly and set them up for success.”
After a career that has taken him from the armed forces to the South Australia Police and Australian Border Force, Haydn is now completing a PhD in Business and Government at Griffith University.
Griffith University physiotherapy lecturer Dr Heather Batten will travel across Europe and the United Kingdom to improve the transition of people with lower limb amputation from hospital to living in the community.
Dr Batten juggles a career in academia and works as a specialist physiotherapist at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, working with patients who have lost a limb.
“My patients face unique environmental and social challenges,” she said.
“There is a real gap in their treatment, so I decided it was time to start blazing a trail on their behalf.
“The focus of all my research and study is making real change in people’s lives.”
With his Fellowship, Griffith Business School alumnus Jeremy Heathcote will gain an international perspective on the work undertaken in First Nations communities on mental health.
The Master of Employment Relations graduate will head to the US, Canada and New Zealand as part of the Churchill Fellowship.
The Winston Churchill Trust will not offer Fellowships in 2021, instead focusing on providing this year’s recipients with the opportunity to undertake study abroad once international travel restrictions lift.
It is 55 years since the first Churchill Fellowships were awarded in honour of British Prime Minister and statesman Sir Winston Churchill.