Kai Prideaux is studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Politics and International Studies. Learn about his experience so far, and why he'd encourage aspiring scholars to apply.
Tell us about your experience studying at the University of Melbourne, and how being a Hansen Scholar has impacted you.
University is a lot more vigorous, and it has been a challenge for me to adjust to a new city, new friends, and a new education system. However, I have been so grateful for the opportunity and am absolutely loving it, Melbourne is my dream city, and The University of Melbourne is my dream university. I was somewhat concerned about whether I would befriend other scholars, but I could not speak higher of the program's inherent values of inclusivity, community, and connection. The scholarship leadership have done such an incredible job during the selection processes — all the scholars are exceptional young individuals and it’s truly what makes the cohort so special. I would comfortably say that within a few months I have made 50 incredible and like-minded friends whom I continue to build connections with.
Why did you apply for the Hansen Scholarship Program?
I have always wanted to study Law at the University of Melbourne – it was (what seemed like) an unachievable dream for my entire adolescent life. I was on my laptop late one night, wishfully looking through The University of Melbourne website (I found myself doing this too often). I stumbled upon the Hansen Scholarship page and I felt like it fit me, but not in any world did I believe I had the chance of receiving the scholarship. But, I knew it would allow me to fulfil the ambition I would so often return to — moving to Melbourne and studying at Australia’s best, most forward-thinking university. So, I nervously rushed to show my high school mentor the next day, she gave me the push I needed to apply, and I am so thankful I did! It has provided so much already, and I am so excited for the impact on others’ lives in the coming years.
Tell us about some of the events and opportunities you've been able to participate in as a Hansen Scholar.
My experience with mentoring from the beginning was exceptional. I was given a peer mentor to assist me and to ask questions prior to moving into Little Hall, and this was fundamental in solidifying my decision to accept the scholarship. I would now consider this mentor a friend, and I am all the better for it. Smaller groups of scholars also share a specialised mentor relevant to their aspirations or interests. I am with a lawyer and lecturer from Melbourne Law School and am so thankful for the opportunity to connect with her.
I was beyond nervous about attending the formal Hansen events, the first of which was the award ceremony early Semester 1, but I soon realised there was nothing to worry about. Even when meeting the scholarship patrons and the Vice-Chancellor, kindness and supportiveness were fostered in their every interaction. I was so thankful for the evening, and it was lovely to connect with so many tremendous individuals.
What have been the highlights of living at Little Hall residence?
I am in constant awe of where I now live. Little Hall is so close to the city; I can get on the tram, and five minutes later, I am in the heart of the city. The building is stunning, with incredible facilities, and I am always using them with friends. However, the best part is being able to live with a pre-installed network of people that I can rely on (the other scholars). It is so incredible to visit our ‘athenaeum’ and meet with other scholars – I find it such a beautiful way to start my day of study and it’s lovely that if you don’t want to be alone, you don’t have to be!
What is one thing you didn’t expect to learn at university and/or what is the most challenging thing you’ve done at university so far?
I didn’t expect the processes of in-person tutorials to be such a large adjustment and learning curve. Firstly, it was wildly intimidating the first few times on its own – entering a new environment, knowing no one and attempting to communicate with people when asked. Then managing to make new friends in a new class environment was another huge aspect. The format of sharing within tutorials was something that I didn’t think I would find so different/challenging – however, I have loved becoming familiar with the system and really enjoy my tutorials (I find it the most intriguing and entertaining part of university study!)
What advice do you have for other students considering applying to Melbourne and for the Hansen Scholarship?
I think, first of all, I would say just to get the ball rolling! If you are particularly nervous (as I was), reach out to an academic mentor of some sort or even your parents and just apply. I truly didn’t think that I was going to be awarded the scholarship; however, Melbourne was my dream, so I went for it! I suggest doing the same; you have no idea, the scholarship team will likely see something in you that you may not yet see in yourself.
Secondly, try to relax – the process of showing them exactly who you are and why you are so amazing is going to work best if you are at ease (especially during the interviews). One core thing to remember is that, yes, the scholarship is prestigious and directed by highly influential people; however, their goal is to change lives and to give your academic life a jump start! They have no intention of intimidating you, and they are all extremely friendly and are excited to speak with you – they understand that you may be nervous; it’s so natural and speaks volumes to your character.