UQ scholarship helps fight for peace

29 Oct 2018

An advocate for women’s empowerment, University of Queensland student Sophie Ryan will continue the fight against sexual and gender-based violence in conflict regions as this year’s George George’s Research Scholarship recipient.

A fifth-year Bachelor of Arts/Laws student, Sophie’s interest in the interplay of religion and peace fits well with honouring the life and work of past Labor Senator George Georges.

The $2,000 scholarship aims to support an undergraduate student seeking to take on a research project in an area relating to peace, nuclear disarmament, trade unionism, environmentalism, social justice, human rights, or other areas that reflect the values and goals of the late Senator.

This latest research project will see Sophie join with UQ’s Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (R2P Centre), to eliminate sexual violence against Yazidis and Rohingya.

A founding member of ‘Toowoomba Together’, Sophie was dedicated to eradicating domestic violence in her hometown and said she plans to use this scholarship to go into the world and do well – but more importantly, do good.

“I am inspired by the power of young people to create change and deeply passionate about facilitating access to education for girls worldwide,” she said.

As a ‘One Girl’ Ambassador, Sophie mobilised her UQ community to raise thousands of dollars to educate girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Already boasting an impressive list of achievements, Sophie recently returned from Singapore on an 18-month program through the New Colombo Plan, where she spent two semesters studying at the National University of Singapore.

“My interest in Singapore stems from the position it occupies in the Asia-Pacific region and therefore, the ability it provides to be closer to processes of peace in the region,” she said.

“During my time there, I also volunteered as a Research Fellow for Strategic Advocacy for Human Rights (‘SAHR’) – a not-for-profit dedicated to empowering persecuted women in the region.”

Awarded Regional Young Citizen of the Year in 2017 in Toowoomba, Sophie works across UQ’s School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry and Political Science and International Studies to promote peace in a number of ways.

Executive Dean of UQ’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Professor Heather Zwicker said HASS is proud to help preserve the legacy of Senator George Georges through research activities in the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.

“Sophie Ryan exemplifies human rights, civic engagement, and constructive dialogue that has the potential to change minds, policies, and lives.

“We are excited to see her research and her continued professional and academic growth,” she said.