Univ Dates: 2013-2017
Degree: MSc Global Health
Degree Level: Postgraduate
Occupation: DPhil Clinical Medicine, Epidemic Diseases Research Group, Oxford
Biography: Amanda is a Rhodes Scholar and medical doctor with an interest in humanitarianism and global health security. She graduated as valedictorian from UQ Medical School, and holds an MSc in Global Health (with distinction) from the University of Oxford. She is completing a DPhil in Clinical Medicine focused on improving patient-oriented research during emerging and epidemic disease outbreaks. She has practiced in a variety of settings and countries and most recently she was the field project manager for the RAPIDE trial conducted in Sierra Leone during the West Africa Ebola epidemic. She was awarded a medal from the University in acknowledgement of her contribution to the Ebola crisis response. She has volunteered for Remote Area Medical in Chicago, for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, and was a State Emergency Service member in Australia. Amanda enjoys hiking – she has trekked to Mount Everest Base Camp and climbed to the summit of Mount Kinabalu in Borneo. She loves playing sport and has been awarded an Oxford Full Blue and rows for UCBC.
Did you have any preconceptions of Oxford before you started at Univ?
I knew of the outstanding academic reputation of the University and had seen photos of balls and garden parties reminiscent of another era. However, I didn’t know anyone who had studied here, and knew little of what to expect. I think these factors also led to the misconception that Oxford might be a strictly formal and archaic environment where I might have trouble fitting in socially, or not be as academically qualified as other students. It was therefore wonderful to find that the college community is down to earth, inclusive, and members so varied in their interests and passions – and that many incredibly bright and capable people felt the same as I did before coming here.
What do you remember about your first day at Univ?
I arrived late on a Sunday evening, in one of the few weeks of the year where there’s a quiet lull between tourist day trippers, and term time. I remember walking though St Mary’s passage toward the Radcliffe Camera at sunset as the stone walls glowed orange and feeling like my world had changed instantaneously. The sense of quiet only lasted as long as the front entrance to Univ, where I was convinced to join a pub trip to the Cape of Good Hope, where I took an instant disliking to both warm ale and pork scratchings but was welcomed into a fantastic community.
Was there anyone at Univ who really inspired you?
Most inspirational have been the other members of the MCR. My friends here are not only remarkable in their professional and academic achievements, but more importantly wonderful company, and incredibly loyal and supportive people to have in my life. One of the regular functions at Univ I love is the Martlet Society, where members of the graduate community present their work to each other in an informal, lounge room setting. While the diversity and impact of work being presented shouldn’t be surprising, it always catches me off guard, perhaps because we spend so little of our social time discussing our work.
Do you have one outstanding memory?
From a professional point of view, it was the night before we began the Ebola treatment trial in Sierra Leone, which constitutes part of my DPhil. A large team of people had worked unbelievably hard for months to mean we were in a position to conduct research that might have a significant impact on patients with a devastating disease, during a terrible epidemic. I remember sitting in my tent working through a myriad of last minute preparations and contingencies, feeling very nervous and proud.
Another outstanding memory has been being involved in college rowing and the great sense of comradeship in the club. I love the frantic last moments preparing for the start gun, and the huge surge of adrenalin as the race starts and the boats behind begin their chase.
How do you think Univ shaped you?
There are two different ways. The first is encouraging a confidence that I have the ability and expertise to make a genuine difference to my field. This has lead to career choices that will be more courageous and impactful than if I had continued along a traditional career path. The second is that the very interdisciplinary nature of the college has taught me how little I know about the world – and how my narrow medical education was limiting my ability to respond to problems in an inventive and thoughtful way. I’ve taken great pleasure in having the time to learn more in fields as varied as politics, international relations, and economics and to read more broadly, and I think that this may be just as important as the specific technical skill set that I acquire here.
What do you think the Young Univ Gallery project can achieve?
Given the current geopolitical climate, I think it’s an important and welcome opportunity to celebrate our diversity and encourage careers that create social good in a variety of different ways. I also hope that it’s a way to inspire students to think creatively and to feel confident navigating their early careers.