GAF Story

Simone De Nys

Australian National University
Bachelor of International Security Studies and Bachelor of Arts

Simone De Nys, ANU scholar. Blonde woman with a black fluffy jacket standing in front of a snowy mountain range.

What has a George Alexander Foundation scholarship made possible for you?

The financial assistance provided by The George Alexander Foundation scholarship has enabled me to take advantage of many opportunities to travel and broaden my areas of study. I have lived on campus at The Australian National University for the past three years, which has enabled me to take part in college and university activities. 

I have also enjoyed the benefits of international study thanks to the support of the GAF scholarship. I  attended a six-week Japanese language and culture course at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto in summer 2018–19, and a semester’s exchange to the University of Geneva in Switzerland in 2020, which was unfortunately cut short due to COVID. The GAF scholarship has allowed me to enrich my study by helping me engage in opportunities presented to me both in Australia and abroad that I otherwise may not have been able to enjoy.

What motivated you to study a Bachelor of International Security Studies and Bachelor of Arts, and what does your course involve in a typical week? 

I have always had an interest in international relations, languages and politics, and seeing that ANU allowed any two degrees to be combined in their flexible double degree plan, I decided to pursue a degree that catered to all my interests. My Arts degree allows me to continue my language studies with a major in French language and culture, and I can advance my interest in politics with my political science minor. I chose the International Security Studies degree to engage with international relations studies with a slight twist; International Security Studies focuses less on the theoretical and more on the practical aspects like military and foreign policy. In a typical week, my course involves attending lectures and tutorials – of which some courses have more than others – staying up-to-date on current affairs and practising French, both in and out of course hours by speaking with the ANU French Collective and watching the French news. 

How are you going in the current COVID-19 pandemic?

I was on exchange when COVID reached pandemic levels and had to cancel my exchange and return to Australia, but I do not regret going on my exchange. I had a brilliant time and was able to learn a lot. I am now back at ANU to continue my study, and one of the best parts of returning to Canberra was reuniting with my friends and the ANU community. I am trying to stay focused on my studies and remain optimistic about the future.

Do you have any self-care tips you would like to share with the GAF community?

Talk with friends, have good, regular, healthy meals and open the window to get some sun! The COVID situation is isolating, so try to keep your connections solid.

Have you undertaken any extracurriculars (volunteering or placements) and how has this enriched your study?

My involvement in college activities has helped me become involved in my university community, making connections and enjoying my life outside of study. I have been involved in the Burton and Garran Hall college productions of “A Flea in Her Ear” in 2019 as Etienne and “Chicago” as an ensemble member. I have also been a part of the ANU Rowing Club and have participated in local and interstate regattas, the most notable of which are the Trickett Regatta (2018–2019) and the Head of the Yarra (2019). I have also been on the Executive of the Rural, Remote and Regional Students’ Society (RRRS) in 2018–2019, which has allowed me to experience leadership and organisational roles within the university community. The RRRS won the prize for Best Humanitarian Club at ANU in 2019 for our efforts to support regional students moving to Canberra.

What are your goals for the future? 

My goals for the distant future are to work in the international relations community, through following a career path into organisations like the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Diplomatic Corps, or the United Nations. I also want to experience life and work in the international community through an internship in an embassy or think tank like the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. I am looking to complete my degree in mid-2022 and hope to achieve excellent academic results and potentially study a masters degree internationally.