Alumni newlyweds sacrifice honeymoon stage for Harvard

Patrick Mayoh and Helen Zhang

The ANU Law degree in particular was very good at preparing me academically

Serendipitous timing has been a recurring theme for ANU Law alumnus Patrick Mayoh, who received the 2015 RG Menzies Scholarship, and recently graduated with a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University.

He undertook his scholarship interview from a hotel room in China on the day of his wedding ceremony. His bride-to-be, Helen Zhang who is also an ANU Law graduate, wore her wedding dress while she watched him complete the interview via Skype.

“Thankfully she’s the most understanding person ever, so she was completely fine with it,” he said.

Although winning the scholarship meant he and his wife would live in different countries for two years, the timing of his admission was otherwise opportune.

Patrick studied public policy at Harvard Kennedy School during the tumultuous and unprecedented 2016 US presidential campaign. While he was there he worked for Steve Jarding, a political campaigner and lecturer at the Kennedy School, to help deliver a course on running a campaign

“During the election, it was mind blowing to be in that classroom,” he said.

He also worked on a research project for Ambassador Wendy Sherman, the former Deputy Secretary of State, who led negotiations in the Iran nuclear deal. The project examined the nuclear threat from North Korea and options for managing it with China.

Patrick said his experience at ANU Law built the necessary foundations to prepare him for Harvard.

“The ANU Law degree in particular was very good at preparing me academically,” he said.

“Especially in a lot of the case-based learning, I found the training I received at the law school very useful in both analysing a case and building my own arguments.

“I think I didn’t realise how lucky I was to have that training from ANU before I went over.”

The Harvard experience has been depicted in popular culture so many times that the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus is a tourist attraction. But Patrick said the perception that American Ivy League schools are intimidating, competitive and exclusive was not reflected in his fellow students.

“It’s very intellectually stimulating, it’s incredibly interactive and it’s enjoyable to be part of classroom discussions,” he said.

“I found it was really collaborative. The focus wasn’t so much on getting perfect grades, but more on organising a really great event or using the school’s resources to contribute to the community.

“People made me feel really welcome.”

Now that he has graduated, Patrick has swapped chilly Boston for sunny Tel Aviv where both he and Helen work for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The recipient of this year's RG Menzies Scholarship to Harvard, Ellen Chapple, is also an ANU Law alumna.

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team