Dr Rani Kerin, a doctoral graduate of the School of History, RSSS, recalls her time as a student here …
I caught a glimpse of graduate life at the RSSS in the summer before my honours year. As a summer scholar, I was made to feel part of the history program; I loved morning and afternoon teas on the Coombs balcony, conversations with other students and staff, and the passion with which people spoke of their work. When it came time to apply for postgraduate scholarships my choice was easy. Apart from the Coombs environment, the RSSS had numerous other attractive qualities: excellent academic staff, generous travel allowances, office space and computer facilities. Proximity to the National Library, the National Archives and AIATSIS was like icing on an apprentice historian’s cake.
One of the best things about doing a PhD in history at the RSSS was the level of student involvement in the life of the program: students and staff had offices side-by-side, students helped to run the weekly seminar program, students were invited to the Annual General staff meeting and were treated as valuable members of the program. I particularly enjoyed the ‘One Day Conference’ which involved every member of the program giving a five minute presentation on their current research. Such occasions reinforced an existing collegiality — they strengthened what was already there. I felt able to discuss my work with anyone in the department, including visiting fellows. Top academics from around Australia and the world visited the history program during my time at Coombs. As valuable as these professional associations have proved to be, my fondest memories are of the friendship and support I received from my fellow students. It’s no exaggeration to say that friendships forged over questions of thesis structure are lifelong!
For the past few years, I have been a lecturer at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, where I have taught Australian history and Australian Indigenous history and have several graduate students of my own. There is no question that doing a PhD in history at the RSSS helped me get my job. The RSSS is known internationally for its quality academics and graduates.