The 'Best and Brightest' Begin to Shine

9 May 2010

Alice Zheng, Pat Bateman, May Samali Tarsha Garvin, Alice Zheng and Patrick Hurley

May Samali, Patrick Hurley, Tarsha Garvin, Pat Bateman and Alice Zheng

Patrick Hurley

The panelists - Alice Zheng, Pat Bateman, Tarsha Garvin, Patrick Hurley and May Samali, - outlined their research whilst shedding light on their achievements and aspirations.

Alice Zheng (BEcon Social Science/Law), a previous editor of The Sydney Globalist, spoke on 'Narrating ethnic minorities in China'. Her thesis explored instability in Xinjiang, a province in China's northwest, by looking at ethnicity in relation to conflict. Using the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as her case study, Alice asked how the Modern Chinese State narrates the nation publicly, who positions individuals within particular ethnic groups and if ethnicity is 'an explanatory variable.'

Many of Alice's findings were confirmed during her three-month visit to China once the thesis was completed. The research has equipped her for a bright future in international law after she 'travels for a few years'.

The second panelist, President of the University of Sydney Union, Pat Bateman (BEcon/Law), energetically discussed candidate selection in NSW political parties, a fitting topic for the venue. His study focused on party rules and the role of membership in formal candidate selection and beyond.

Pat's thesis stems from the fact that he 'lives and breathes Australian Politics' and finds candidate selection 'fascinating'. He says 'political parties inform, aggregate and represent public opinion [yet there] is a significant gap in current literature on the topic'. No doubt Pat's future work will overcome this void.

May Samali's (BEcon Social Science/Law) theses: 'Venue Shopping, Issue Framing, and the United Nations Systems' examined the Baha'i International Community's campaign to end the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran. She has not ruled out completing a future internship with the organisation at the UN.

In August, May embarks on an exchange to New York University Law School for the final semester of her law degree. She says 'going on exchange presents an exciting opportunity to add an international dimension to [her] degree, and to introduce [her] to new ways of seeing and understanding the law and the world.'

May will follow her exchange semester by 'working as the tipstaff (associate/clerk) to the Honourable Justice Margaret Beazley AO in the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of New South Wales' before practicing law in Australia or abroad.

Honours 'was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of [May's] life' and has opened a lot of doors for her. Since 2009, she has tutored 'in International Organisation, Applied International Studies, and Geopolitics within the Department of Government and International Relations'. May has also worked as a Research Assistant for the Department and served as an Associate Editor and Editor-in-Chief of The Sydney Globalist.

Panelists agree that the Department of Government and International Relations reflects current developments and activities in the ever-changing world of politics, aiming to prepare students for life, rather than just the first job.

The Department's analysis of leadership, power and political parties helped University of Sydney tutor Patrick Hurley (BEcon) who knew he was taking on 'a frustrating subject' when researching the think tank phenomenon in Australia. Interested in how ideas influence public policy and the growing international 'think tank' phenomena Patrick felt academic attention was long overdue.

Excited to explore 'life after Honours', Patrick can look forward to international internships, postgraduate study, international law and the chance to work for The Sydney Globalist and other publications.

Tarsha Gavin (BEcon Social Science/Law) shares Patrick's excitement and drew on her own experiences when exploring 'Participatory Governance and the Policy Process in Housing'. Looking at the Minto Public Housing Renewal Project Tarhsa evaluated the different conceptualisations of community engagement offered by public policy and participatory governance theories.

Experience as Treasurer of the Politics Society and member of the NSW Youth Advisory Panel helped Tarsha understand 'how you should engage a community [and observe] real life policy in action.'

A fourth year Honours thesis is about 18,000 words, based on original research and exposition, completed alongside select units of study. Many program graduates have pursued careers in international affairs, public policy and administration, consultancy and journalism with employers ranging from the ABC to World Vision. As May says, the 'Honours year gives you a chance to immerse yourself in a topic that interests you, to push your academic boundaries, and to create something new.' To find out more visit

Article by Liz Schaffer.