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Sydney engineering graduate awarded NSW Rhodes Scholarship

13 November 2019
University of Sydney engineering graduate Grace Henry has been elected as a 2020 NSW Rhodes Scholar for her outstanding academic, sporting and community achievements.
Grace Henry

Governor of New South Wales, the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC and Rhodes Scholar elect Grace Henry.

The NSW Selection Committee, chaired by Governor of New South Wales, the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC, have announced the election of Grace Henry as the NSW Rhodes Scholar for 2020. Grace is a Graduate Process Engineer with Shell, has devoted time to working on projects in rural India with Engineers Without Boarders, and sits on the board of an aged care organisation.

“It is fantastic for Grace’s extraordinary achievements to be recognized by a Rhodes Scholarship,” says Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research – Enterprise & Engagement) Associate Professor Eric Knight.

“The Rhodes Scholarship has attracted some of the country’s brightest leaders, motivated to public service and to tackle the great challenges of our time.” 

“I was delighted to learn Grace was named as the 2020 NSW Rhodes Scholar,” says Professor Dianne Wiley, Head of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

“This prestigious award is a fitting next step in the development of Grace’s career and a very deserving recognition of her fantastic academic achievements.”

Striving for sustainability

Grace completed a Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Chemical and Biomolecular) degree at the Faculty of Engineering, which fuelled her career interests in sustainable energy. She says she hopes to have an impact on environmental policy decisions, both in Australia and globally.

“At Oxford, I’ll be studying a Master of Energy Systems followed by a Master of Public Policy,” says Grace.

“In the future I hope to be able to influence Australia’s energy policy. This is something that really excited me as it is critical that Australia takes greater action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. I think contributing to policy is where I’ll be able to make the greatest difference.”

Outstanding achievements in sport

Grace Henry

Rhodes Scholar Grace Henry.

Grace plays soccer in the national Women’s League for Perth Glory, and credits this with building a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed.

“Growing up, I was training up to 9 times per week for soccer and I actually completed two of my year twelve exams while competing at the Under 17 Asian Cup Soccer tournament in China. I had to become quite efficient with how I managed my time, so balancing all my commitments while at university was possible.”

She was also part of the Sydney University Elite Athlete Program, which provides everything from financial support to academic help. 

“The Elite Athlete Program, along with the support of my parents, made any stressful periods quite manageable.”

However, Grace believes it was the culmination of all her efforts that has seen her elected as a Rhodes Scholar. 

“Playing sport at a high level didn’t get me a scholarship by itself,” says Grace.

Associate Professor Knight agrees.

“For a while there was a perception Rhodes Scholars had to be sportspeople, but the Rhodes has a central focus on diversity, inclusion, and excellence. Rhodes Scholars need to have vigour, and for that vigour to be directed intelligently and with the public good at its heart.”

A commitment to breaking down barriers

Grace’s election as Rhodes Scholar is also thanks to a deep commitment to programs such as Engineers Without Borders. She travelled to rural India as a volunteer as part of that program, and was also the first female student to travel to Saudi Arabia in 2017 as part of the Faculty of Engineering’s industry-student placement program.

“I can’t begin to tell you how much I gained from those placements on both a professional and personal level,” says Grace.

Grace’s commitment to helping others also saw her take on leadership roles in student societies, and volunteer both as a lab assistant for a research team and in her local community.

“She is truly an emerging leader with the commitment, resilience and drive to courageously pursue lasting solutions to the major environmental, humanitarian and cultural issues of our time,” concludes Professor Wiley.

“As a Rhodes Scholar myself, I wish Grace the best of luck,” says Associate Professor Knight. “The Rhodes Scholarship has given me a global perspective in my scholarship and leadership and I continue to learn from other Rhodes Scholars both in Australia and abroad.”

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