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Curtin’s first Indigenous student named New Colombo Plan Fellow

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An Aboriginal health sciences student has become Curtin University’s first Indigenous student to be named a prestigious New Colombo Plan Fellow.

Matthew Harris, a Bachelor of Health Sciences student with a focus on Indigenous and public health, was named a New Colombo Plan (NCP) Fellow as a top ranked student for the Federated States of Micronesia.

Mr Harris was among 125 of Australia’s top undergraduate students to receive NCP Scholarships, formally announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan, at a ceremony in Canberra. The grant allows recipients to live, learn and intern in the Indo-Pacific region in 2020.

Mr Harris joins six other Curtin students who were named NCP scholars and will study at a range of leading universities, including in China and Singapore. They include Callum Thomas (Bachelor of Commerce), Kirill Butler (Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Commerce), Jazlyn Peattie (Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Commerce), Tiffany Verga (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce), Alexander Page (Bachelor of Engineering) and Jasmine Schmidt (Bachelor of Advanced Science).

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry congratulated the recipients, adding the scholarships gave students the opportunity to gain a well-rounded exchange, including personal, cultural and professional experiences.

“The program gives Curtin students an opportunity to forge global pathways and immerse themselves in projects that can have real impact,” Professor Terry said.

“The students will be able to develop networks and skills that will give them a competitive edge when they graduate. By embedding our students overseas for a period, we are preparing them for a truly outward looking future as global citizens.”

NCP Fellow and Scholar Matthew Harris said it was an honour to be recognised and he looked forward to building important international relationships and developing first-hand knowledge of the Pacific region.

“As I am working towards a career in public health, I want to contribute to strengthening health systems in Australia and around the world,” Matthew said.

“The NCP Scholarship Program will allow me to gain invaluable experience, expertise and new perspectives on public health in the Pacific region while immersing myself in the rich and diverse culture of Micronesia.”

Curtin University has also received its highest grant allocation in the 2020 round of the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program since the fund’s inception in 2014.
More than $3 million in funding over the next three years will go towards helping 562 Curtin University undergraduate students study overseas in Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nepal, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The NCP Mobility Program has already enabled more than 650 Curtin students to study abroad with more than 40,000 students from across Australia expected to have taken part in the program by 2020.

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