Student given chance to rub shoulders with world leaders

July 28, 2015

Claire Smith square smallSir Walter Murdoch School masters student, Claire Smith, has been given the opportunity of a lifetime after being chosen for a scholarship that will see her meet Australia’s leaders in Canberra before heading to Paris to take part in the COP21, the UN’s crucial international conference on climate change.

Claire was the inaugural winner of the Mal and Karyl Nairn Global Voices Scholarship, which enables a top-performing Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs student to join an international delegation to bring Australia’s future leaders face-to-face with key global decision makers.

The School’s Dean, Professor Benjamin Reilly, said while many Sir Walter Murdoch students already pursue research internships in WA, the Global Voices scholarship gives them the chance to complete their degree at a national and global level of decision-making.

“Claire had to undergo a merit-based selection to be chosen and her journey with Global Voices will involve some serious preparation,” Professor Reilly said.

“I’m confident that with her diligent approach and mature attitude, Claire will be a great ambassador for the Sir Walter Murdoch School.

“This experience will be a game-changer for Claire, the contacts she makes will be invaluable and possibly life-changing.”

As well as meeting Australia’s leaders in Canberra, Claire must complete a research fellowship, a research paper and publish an opinion piece about COP21.

“The experience starts in Canberra with meetings with politicians and civil servants in government, the opposition and in Federal Parliament, before heading to Paris as part of an international delegation, working closely with Australian government officials,” said Professor Reilly.

Claire works fulltime for the City of Perth in the Economic Development Unit which oversees international relations. Prior to this she worked for the US State Department as a Political Advisor to the US Consul General in Perth.

“Attending COP21 will be the experience of a lifetime, and I am still absorbing the full significance of this great honour,” Claire said.

“I am determined to make Murdoch and Australia proud and I feel I have a lot to offer the Australian team.”

Claire said she was interested in the Mal and Karyl Nairn Global Voices Scholarship because the more she learns about climate change, the more important it seems to get involved.

“This scholarship is an amazing opportunity to begin working on important issues related to climate change such as creative ways in which countries can work together to foster sustainable development,” Claire said.

“It will be inspiring to hear first-hand from brilliant minds and dedicated activists changing the course of global efforts to fight climate change.”

Claire is particularly interested in how developing countries can find synergies and mutually beneficial partnerships that promote sustainable development.

“In the future I would love to contribute to policy development as a consultant for government or in government affairs for a renewable energy company or another type of social enterprise,” she said.

Claire’s work as part of the Global Voices delegation will count towards her Masters degree at the Sir Walter Murdoch School.

“We want to see our best students having influence on the world stage,” said Professor Reilly.

“By providing them the opportunity to engage with big policy issues both at home and abroad, the Global Voices scholarship fits the Sir Walter Murdoch School’s mission perfectly.”

Professor Mal Nairn is a former Murdoch University Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Veterinary School and his daughter Karyl Nairn is a London-based QC.

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