Adelaide Uni Distinguished Alumni Award Speech

jane-20160909-adluniaward-melwoodpics-06I’m thrilled to accept this award today and to celebrate where my degree has taken me. This study kindled my curiosity about life in all its dimensions and it has given me the skills to seek to understand, analyze, synthesize and critique what’s happening in the world, especially for women.

This degree has taught me how to connect seemingly disparate information and ideas to appreciate their interconnection. It has also taught me how to open up dialogue rather than close it down. And it’s given me the ability to make the business case to raise millions of dollars for issues and causes that need funding.

The gift of independent study during my honors degree gave me the ability to steer my own course and to have confidence in my own judgment. Having lecturers such as Professor Hugh Stretton taught me so much about critical thinking and applying the lessons of history to contemporary issues.  Working for the student paper, On Dit, fuelled my love of writing and working at student radio made me feel like every day could be a creative act.

I remember too the many Theatre Sports sessions at the university on weekends with Geoffrey Rush as Master of Ceremonies. Ones where jaffas were literally rolled down the aisles and fantales tossed over seats while many of us were on the floor holding our sides from laughing so much. And, at the end of all this, I remember my proud as punch parents at both my graduations.

From that extraordinary time of learning and freedom has been my journey to where I am now. Living on a small wooden Popeye boat in Sausalito, just over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, working for a global women’s human rights organization. ‘

This degree has provided me a foundation for my work inside the refugee camps in Lebanon and in working with women who have escaped ISIS in order to determine what kinds of policies will make a difference to their safety and freedom. This arts degree has given me skills in political analysis and historical perspective that supported my interaction with Nelson Mandela in discussing the power of citizen led activism, and being with Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma during the first International Human Rights Day held in Burma since 1988. I wrote about this in my book, Citizen Jane.

This journey has now led me to my new role with The Asia Foundation that will see me working with the White House and with many other influential groups in both the US and across Asia.

When I return here now I feel such gratitude for what this university has fostered in me. And I hope to find meaningful ways to give back, including being a global mentor to other students here and continuing my fight for the right of women and girls everywhere to have access to education.

Thank you very much for the honor of this award, and for the myriad gifts this university has provided me.

Jane Sloane