UQ graduate named Australia-at-large Rhodes Scholar

A University of Queensland graduate and advocate for social justice has been named a 2020 Australia-at-large Rhodes Scholar.

Sophie Ryan recently graduated with a Bachelors of Arts/Laws (First Class Honours) and will join a small group of exceptional individuals around the world to receive the prestigious scholarship.

Rhodes Scholars are selected on the basis of their intellect, character, leadership ability and commitment to service.

“This still feels so surreal - the opportunity to progress my studies in international conflict and dispute resolution at Oxford is overwhelming,” Ms Ryan said.

“I’ve always wanted to help people however I can, and after seeing firsthand the impact of conflict, I feel my education at UQ gave me the tools to do this.

“Law can be used to make a difference and I want to use my voice to help others where I can.”

Ms Ryan, who focused on peacebuilding, conflict resolution and the interplay of religion and peace during her studies, said she was stunned to learn she had been named a Rhodes Scholar.

Ms Ryan already has a number of accolades and achievements under her belt. During her time at UQ she was awarded a George Georges Research Scholarship and was named a New Colombo Scholar.

She joins recent UQ Rhodes Scholars Indigenous lawyer Jordan English and engineer Nicholas Salmon.

Under the New Colombo program Ms Ryan spent 18 months studying in Singapore where she also volunteered with Strategic Advocacy for Human Rights and interned with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Ms Ryan said her passion for international dispute resolution was confirmed after she participated in The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

“My experiences in mooting competitions and in particular the amazing mentorship and guidance I received from Professor Anthony Cassimatis really set me on my path,”

“It would be remiss of me to not mention all of the people, from my teachers to my peers who not only supported me but challenged me to be more.

“I am only here today because of them.”

Ms Ryan plans to commence at Oxford in September 2020 and hopes to undertake a Bachelor of Civil Law and subsequently a Master of Philosophy in Law.

During her time at UQ she also completed research for the Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and worked as a legal intern with the World Bank in Vietnam.

In her home town of Toowoomba, Ms Ryan has also been an active advocate against domestic violence and was a founding member of ‘Toowoomba Together’.

Ms Ryan is currently an associate to the President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, Justice Sarah Derrington.

The scholarship provides support for full-time studies at the University of Oxford.


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