Stefanie on path to Oxford
University of Adelaide Law and Engineering graduate Stefanie Wilkins has won a prestigious Menzies Scholarship to study Law at Oxford University in the UK.
Ms Wilkins, 25, of Burnside, was one of only two winners of a Menzies Scholarship in Law for 2008.
The scholarships, named after former Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, provide tuition and college fees, as well as some living expenses, at some of the world's most renowned universities in the UK.
Winning the scholarship will see Ms Wilkins take another important step towards becoming a human rights lawyer - a path she chose while studying Law at the University of Adelaide.
A former student of Seymour College, Ms Wilkins studied for a double degree in Civil Engineering and Law at Adelaide, graduating with First Class Honours in Civil Engineering in 2003 and First Class Honours in Law in 2006.
In 2005, she participated in the Law School's International & Human Rights Law Internship Programme, enabling her to work for three months as an intern at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, the Netherlands.
She could not have hoped for a better exposure to human rights law, being involved in the trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosević.
"It definitely expanded my understanding of international human rights law and gave me an even greater interest in human rights," Ms Wilkins said.
"Meeting like-minded people and seeing how such a tribunal operates in practice, and the difficulties it faces, was a fantastic experience."
Her Honours thesis in Law dealt with a human rights issue closer to home - the issue of emerging statutory Bills of Rights in a number of Australian States, and what the Constitutional implications might be when these Bills of Rights are used by courts. She also compared what was occurring in Australia with the statutory Bills of Rights adopted in the UK and New Zealand.
Since graduating from the University of Adelaide, Ms Wilkins has been working as an Associate to the Honourable Justice Sulan in the South Australian Supreme Court.
She said she was excited about the opportunities presented by the Menzies Scholarship, which will see her study for a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) from September 2008. The one-year coursework degree is equivalent to a Masters in Australia.
"It's a great honour to receive the Menzies Scholarship," said Ms Wilkins, who is hoping to return to Australia and become a barrister focused on human rights and related law.
"I'm very much interested both in how human rights principles apply in an international setting, and how they are applied in domestic law," Ms Wilkins said.
"It's an area of law that will continue to develop in Australia."
Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Scholarships are provided in the fields of Allied Health, Engineering, Law and Medicine, as well as a scholarship to Harvard University in any field.
Ms Wilkins is the sixth University of Adelaide graduate to receive a Menzies Scholarship, and the third in Law.
Story by David Ellis