From Tasmania to Oxford: Tuckwell Scholar awarded Rhodes Scholarship

29 October 2021

I hope to work on issues strengthening our human rights culture and legal mechanisms within Australia

Madeleine McGregor (2016 Tuckwell Scholar) has won the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship for Tasmania. Madeleine will travel to the University of Oxford in September 2022 where she plans to study a Bachelor of Civil Laws and Master of Philosophy in Law.

An aspiring human rights lawyer who is passionate about grassroots movements, Madeleine has contributed to positive change within a range of communities and causes. Some examples of her work include addressing the mischaracterisation of Islam at the Tasmanian Lions Youth of the Year Program, undertaking research and media for Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh MP’s marriage equality campaign, and co-founding the National Council of Women Australia’s Youth Subcommittee.

In 2019, Madeleine leveraged her legal training to pursue a fairer system for Indigenous people in Western Australia when volunteering with the Aboriginal Legal Service in Kununurra – located in the Kimberley. Reflecting on her experience in Kununurra, Madeleine said, “It was hugely influential as my first legal experience. I chose to go there because I have always been passionate about human rights and inequalities, and wanted to explore the human rights issues within our own country. It was confronting to witness the law operating, not just as the tool for justice I’d hoped, but also as a weapon of oppression and power. It really transformed how I think about social justice and human rights as not just a matter of winning in court, but critiquing the law, shifting narratives, and magnifying voices.”

At Oxford, Madeleine proposes to undertake research that examines the efficacy of solidarity movements in connection to the enforcement of international human rights standards. She hopes to apply an understanding of movements to opportunities for enforcing the rights of Australian First Nations, in light of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and Black Lives Matter movements. “I hope to work on issues strengthening our human rights culture and legal mechanisms within Australia. I see my contribution at the intersection of international and domestic action, harnessing grassroots movements so that change is directed by the people most affected,” said Madeleine.

The third Tuckwell Scholar to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in the past three years, Madeleine joins Marcus Dahl (2014 Tuckwell Scholar, 2020 Australia-at-Large Rhodes Scholarship) and Lachlan Arthur (2015 Tuckwell Scholar, 2021 Rhodes Scholarship for South Australia) as well as a handful of other Tuckwells who have continued their studies at the University of Oxford. Head of Scholars House Associate Professor Ryan Goss, a Rhodes Scholar and Oxford graduate himself, reflected on Madeleine’s achievement, "Oxford has so much to offer a student like Madeleine. This is a wonderful opportunity for Maddy to further her education and explore her passions, and a proud day for the Tuckwell Program”.

Madeleine joined ANU in 2016 to commence a Tuckwell Scholarship and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) with specialisation in International and Comparative Law and a Bachelor of Economics.  During her studies, she actively engaged in the vibrant ANU campus experience. Among other things, she participated in student clubs, finished the ANU Inward Bound Adventure Race then later became involved in ultra-marathons, and competed successfully in a range of international legal competitions. In 2020, Madeleine represented Team Australia and finished in second in the Intercollegiate Negotiation Competition (INC). In 2021, she won the prestigious Sir Harry Gibbs Constitutional Law Moot in a team comprised of Tuckwell Scholars studying Law at ANU.

An active member of the Scholars House community, Madeleine served on Scholars House Committee (2019), co-coordinated the Tuckwell Enrichment Program (2017), and contributed to the Bell magazine (2016). Reflecting on her Tuckwell experience, Madeleine said, “the Tuckwell Scholarship has been a tremendous support, both in the Rhodes application process as well as journey through university. What has been most foundational is the holistic mentorship, providing me with rounded support as an individual, not limited to academic and career advice.” Tuckwell Program Director Andrew Swan thanked “Maddy for her significant contribution to the Scholars House community and congratulated her on her success. She will be a wonderful ambassador for ANU and Scholars House at Oxford and beyond.”

Receiving news of her Rhodes Scholarship came as a “shock, and then a huge moment to share with my family.  I think it is going to take some time to sink in and feel real, but I am very honoured and grateful, especially to the village of support that has brought me here,” said Madeleine.

The oldest and one of the most prestigious international graduate scholarship programs, the Rhodes Scholarships were established in 1903. Applicants are expected to demonstrate exceptional academic achievements, character, leadership and commitment to service. The primary goal of the program is to develop the leaders of tomorrow.

Each year, nine Rhodes Scholarships are available for outstanding Australians to study at the University of Oxford. One scholarship is offered in each of the states (NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania), and three for Australia at large. For further information about the Rhodes Trust, visit the Rhodes House website.

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