This week we found out that the Macquarie Undergraduate Research Internship program (MURI) was nominated for a NSW Youth Work Action Award for the Outstanding Work with Diverse Young People Award! Youth Action is the peak body for young people and youth services in NSW.
It all started back on 25 September, as I was midway through the millennial tradition of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, when I saw an announcement that the NSW Youth Work Awards 2018 was accepting nominations. The next morning, as I am the current Project Research Coordinator, I nominated the Macquarie Undergraduate Research Internship (MURI) Program for the Outstanding work with Diverse Young People category. This is a wonderful validation for all those who have worked so hard to make this program a success.
For those who are unaware, MURI (funded by the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program, HEPPP) has been providing domestic undergraduate students from underprivileged backgrounds the opportunity to be awarded a paid research internship since 2013. Under the mentorship of a university academic, students undertake a research project and receive weekly workshops to improve their soft skills, e.g. writing a CV/resume/cover letter, dealing with mental health issues, having a professional network, social media for personal branding, and public speaking.
“My experience at MURI has been one that will be unforgettable. The program not only allowed me to gain numerous new skills but also has opened multiple opportunities for me” – Wadaha Hussein, former MURIntern (2017).
Every year, we host a One Minute Thesis (1MT) Competition (adapted from University of Queensland’s 3MT) and a poster conference. This year alone we secured placements for 10 interns. Former interns have gone on to present their research at the Australasian Conference of Undergraduate Research (ACUR) and undertaken higher degree education.
The Program allows young Australians from equity backgrounds to facilitate their career progression and allow them to put on a level playing field. The MURInterns are provided with a platform to choose a project from a broad range of topics – domestic violence, health, ancient history, racism, international journalism, to name a few. We promote self-confidence and encourage growth in our interns in weekly workshops, 1MTs, and conference presentations.
“MURI unlocked multiple unknown treasure chests in my mind that I never knew existed, all with one key. It is an experience that will change your university life for the better and prepare you not just career-wise but as a person” – Angel Kalaimani, former MURIntern (2017).
The MURI tradition favours student development – it is facilitated and coordinated by former interns who have completed the program and want to give back. Presently, the Project Research Coordinator is yours truly, Ali Asgher Ali, and the program is facilitated by Mariam Chendeb and Anthony J. Our entire team are former interns who have been working with MURI for the past 3 years.
Our success is the success of our students. Previous interns have gone on to present their research in international conferences and publish in respected journals. Those that do not pursue academia have used their newly-found transferable skills in their professional lives as well; a humanitarian conference, scheduled for 2019, is being planned and designed by a former intern!
Applying for the award was my way of thanking all the MURI staff and interns who contributed in so many ways – Associate Professor Peter Keegan, Perri Reynolds, Beverley Miles to name a few. I did not think I would hear back, so I was ecstatic when I received a call from Youth Works Australia informing me our nomination had been shortlisted!
“To be shortlisted is a terrific valuation of the program and a credit to the staff and the student researchers. Congratulations to all involved, past and present, to the team and, of course, to our hard-working and enthusiastic interns!” – Peter Keegan, MURI Supervisor
Watch this space for more updates, contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @MQMURI. The NSW Youth Works Awards will be held on 25 October 2018 and the current MURI staff will be attending – with their fingers crossed…