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UA Alumni - Eleanor Foster

Eleanor was the Oceania Regional Winner in the History category in 2020.

Since she was awarded, Eleanor has graduated with a Bachelor of Philosophy (Hons) majoring in History from the Australian National University.

What are you doing now and what has happened since the award?

Since the award, I have completed my undergraduate studies and accomplished many of the things I had hoped to do in that time. My first journal article was published, I presented at my first conference, and I have been involved in a really great team dedicated to researching Indigenous Australian objects in overseas museums.

All this has happened in the post COVID-19 world, so while international travel has been out of reach, I’m glad I have been able to progress and remain involved in wide-ranging research despite this barrier.

What do you like the most about what you do?

I like that history teaches us about the complexities of our own time. While many events of the past can be depressing, there is also a lot to be heartened by. In my work with museum collections, for example, it is incredible to see how many multilayered meanings can be embedded in the smallest or most unassuming of things – and to be able to communicate this with people is really special.

Where do your interests lie?

I am really interested in colonial and imperial history, specifically of Australia, and the way museum collections can be harnessed to tell complex stories about the past.

Since graduating, I have been lucky to work across my academic and professional interests as a University Tutor and Collections Assistant at a local museum.

What are your plans/dreams for the future?

This year, I plan to undertake graduate study in the United Kingdom and hope to go on to pursue a career in academia or museums.

What advice would you give current undergraduate students or recent graduates?

Follow your research passions and create a nurturing community around you that
can give you advice about your work and direction. Research is a really collaborative experience and there are many networks that can be tapped into to expand your skills. Ask for help when you need it, and don’t be afraid to share your work and respond to constructive critique.

Has receiving an award for your hard work helped?

Gaining recognition for my work in the Undergraduate Awards gave me the confidence to continue pursuing research at a high standard. To know that coursework completed at university could be internationally recognised really reinforced my drive to keep challenging myself in this way.

Why should students submit their work?

Submitting your work is the first step to putting your research and effort out into the world. It may be a daunting prospect, but it teaches you great skills and forces you to gain a bit of distance between your work and yourself. Most importantly, it is an amazing opportunity to gain a broader audience for your research.

The Undergraduate Awards brings together an amazingly diverse range of experts to assess the entries, so it would be a waste not to take advantage of that!