Honours student Sarah Bourke was named National Scholar of the Year at the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Awards Ceremony in Hobart last weekend.
The award highlights the outstanding contributions that Indigenous Australians make to improve the lives of people in their communities and beyond, or to promote Indigenous issues in the wider community.
Ms Bourke said she felt surprised and honoured to receive the award.
"Knowing the calibre of previous recipients, it was a real privilege to be chosen." she said.
"The way I personally approach ‘Closing the Gap’ is by talking to people about the opportunities available at university for Indigenous students, and how continuing their education is a great way to improve their lives and livelihoods. In the future I hope to work in the health sector and advocate the importance of a holistic approach to improving the health of Indigenous people."
In addition to her studies, Ms Bourke participates in many local volunteer projects.
"I have volunteered with the ANU Ambassador program, visiting students in regional high schools and colleges to talk about my experiences at university. I have also done a few things with the Tjabal Indigenous Higher Education Centre around the same theme."
"When I volunteer, I really feel like I am contributing to the community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and feel a sense of pride and self-fulfillment by supporting some fantastic programs."
Ms Bourke completed a double degree in arts and science at ANU last year and is now undertaking an honours year. Her mentor, Director of the Tjabal Indigenous Higher Education Centre Dr Peter Radoll, was named NAIDOC ACT Scholar of the Year.
Ms Bourke was the recipient of a Charlie Perkins Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford last year. This year she received both the Neville Bonner Memorial Scholarship and the Sally White-Diane Barwick Award.
Photo: © Commonwealth of Australia 2012