An award-winning Bachelor of Arts (Hons) / Bachelor of Law (Hons) alumnus of The Australian National University is furthering his love of history at Cambridge University in 2018 after winning a prestigious scholarship.
Daniel McKay, whose achievements as an ANU undergraduate included prizes from the NSW History Council and international Undergraduate Award, received the CAS Hawker Scholarship to study in England for one year.
He won the scholarship after a process which Daniel says challenged him to think deeply about his future study and career plans.
What was your reaction upon receiving the news of the scholarship?
Receiving the news that I had been offered a Hawker Scholarship was a giddily thrilling moment. I felt privileged and proud to have been given such an extraordinary opportunity to continue my studies at the University of Cambridge. It is rewarding to know that others see potential in you and your work.
Admittedly, the moment was also tinged with poignancy, as I reflected on my desire to share the news with my late grandmother who, as I was growing up on the family farm, had gifted me my love and curiosity for history.
For how long will you live at Cambridge?
I will be living at Cambridge for a year. If I proceed to a PhD, it may be a few more.
What will you be studying/researching? An extension of your research into the imperial federation movement in Australia?
At Cambridge I will be completing an MPhil in World History. This course is designed to meld the histories of regions and empires into connected histories of the globe. As well as learning from experienced historians in my field of history, I will have the opportunity to investigate my own research project on the evolution of constitutional and political relations within the British Empire in the years immediately following the First World War. I will be examining the Imperial Conference of 1926 and asking how important it was for giving Australia, and other Dominions like New Zealand and Canada, equal status with the United Kingdom. My interest in this topic has grown directly out of researching my history and law honours projects at ANU.
What do you hope to gain from your time at Cambridge?
I am tremendously looking forward to continuing my training as an historian at Cambridge. As one of the largest history faculties in the world, I am looking forward to being exposed to new ways of thinking about history and having my own ideas challenged.
Will you be sketching Cambridge buildings and sharing them to your Instagram account?
The beautiful historic buildings and ancient traditions of the university will no doubt be an inspirational setting to pursue my studies and indulge my hobby of sketching and scribbling.
Lastly, will there be things you’ll miss about your time at ANU and Canberra?
There might be around 17,000 kilometres between Canberra and Cambridge, but the experiences, lessons and friends I gained as an ANU undergraduate will long be my travelling companions. Perhaps most valuably of all, ANU has gifted me the confidence to keep learning, and keep asking questions.
Anything else you wanted to add?
The Hawker Scholarship was established to honour the memory of one Australia’s greatest statesman, Charles Hawker, an inspirational soldier, pastoralist and politician. It is one of the most generous privately funded scholarships available in Australia. It is open not just to postgraduate students applying to the University of Cambridge, but also to undergraduate students seeking to study at ANU.
I would encourage anyone who has ambitions to learn, to seek and apply for the many grants and scholarships available. The worst that can happen is a politely worded rejection letter and the best that can happen is a ticket to new opportunities.