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Graham Ackhurst
18 December 2018

An Aboriginal writer who ‘gained a second chance at life’ following treatment for a rare cancer has become the first Indigenous recipient of the Fulbright W.G. Walker scholarship.

Creative writer and scholar Graham Akhurst is one of six University of Queensland alumni and academics awarded Fulbright Scholarships for study in the United States next year.

Recipients include senior law lecturer and accessibility advocate Dr Paul Harpur, who became blind following a train accident at the age of 14, physicist and Science Demo Troupe member Sam Cree, nanotechnology researcher Liam Brownlie, pain researcher David Klyne and biomedical graduate Hyab Mehari Abraha.

Mr Akhurst has lectured and tutored in creative arts at UQ since graduating with first class honours in 2014, when he was valedictorian for the Arts cohort.

“I want to embrace the second chance I’ve been given by creating literature that embodies the urban Indigenous experience, while also advocating for the international distribution of Indigenous creative voices,” Mr Akhurst said.

“I hope to do this by being a mentor to future Indigenous writers through striving for personal success, but also through academic pursuits and teaching and lecturing in Indigenous studies and creative writing.

“If Indigenous writers are exposed to overseas education, there will be a drastic shift in the quality and distribution of Indigenous literature. I hope to be a catalyst for that change.”

Currently undertaking a Master of Philosophy at UQ, he will study a Master in Fine Arts (Creative Writing) at Hunter College, New York.

For Dr Harpur (pictured left), the questions of why barriers to ability exist and how they can be removed has evolved into an impressive academic and advocacy career.

Dr Harpur will use his 2019 Fulbright Futures Scholarship to spend three months between the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University and Harvard University, researching universal design in digital and physical spaces to ensure accessibility for all persons with disabilities.

David Klyne will be working with world leaders in pain medicine at the Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine, to understand the role of sleep in chronic pain.

“My aim is to develop new treatments to prevent and reduce chronic pain,” Dr Klyne said.

Details of the 2019 Fulbright cohort can be found on the Fulbright site.

Media: UQ Communications, communications@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 1120.


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