Rhodes Scholarship awarded to top ANU College of Law graduate

Sarah Dobbie
2016 graduate Sarah Dobbie will study an honours in civil law at Oxford University next year after receiving a Rhodes Scholarship for Australia.

Sarah said she could never justify her studies of human suffering if the ultimate purpose was not to alleviate suffering.

ANU College of Law alumna Sarah Dobbie has joined three Australian prime ministers, two high court justices and two Nobel Prize winners by becoming a recipient of the Rhodes Scholarships for Australia.

The prestigious scholarship, which provides the opportunity to study at the University of Oxford, is offered to just nine Australians each year.

Sarah was working as a refugee status determination legal advisor in Cairo when she decided to apply for the scholarship.

She told The Canberra Times she had been preparing for an interview with a boy whose family was killed by the Janjaweed government when she had to return to Australia to prepare for the rigorous interview process.

Sarah, who graduated with a Bachelor of Law (First Class Honours) and a Bachelor of Arts (International Relations) earlier this year, will use the scholarship to study a Bachelor of Civil Law with a strong focus on human rights law.

Following the one year coursework masters, she will then undertake a second masters, the MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.

Sarah said she could never justify her studies of human suffering if the ultimate purpose was not to alleviate suffering.

“My goal is not simply to study at Oxford, it is to alter the way in which we manage forced migration,” she said.

“Oxford provides the strongest platform from which to realise that plan.”

ANU College of Law Dean Professor Stephen Bottomley said it was a tremendous honour to have followed Sarah’s career as a law student and to see it continue as a recipient of one of the world’s most prestigious scholarships.

“Sarah was one of our top graduates in 2016 and we had no doubt she would continue to reach great heights in the profession,” he said.

ANU Senior Lecturer Ryan Goss, a Rhodes Scholar himself, said “The Rhodes scholarship is a tremendous opportunity for a talented student like Sarah. Oxford’s postgraduate programs are challenging and inspiring, and I’m sure Sarah’s ANU law studies will provide a great foundation for her time there.”

Associate Professor Sarah Heathcote, who first met Sarah when she was a student in her 2015 course International Organisations: Geneva, said "Sarah is a true all-rounder – talented, hard-working, considerate and engaging – and I can’t think of a student better suited to take up a prestigious Rhodes scholarship.”

In the personal statement which accompanied her Rhodes application, Sarah pointed to a quote from the Dalai Lama that the keeps pinned above her desk.

“It says ‘[i]f you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room’,” she said.

“With the help of the Rhodes scholarship, I plan to embrace my inner mosquito - to display persistence and resilience, and to raise my voice when the room is filled with silence.”

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