(As prepared for delivery, May 31, 2016)
Over seven decades, the Fulbright program has left an indelible mark on Australia and the United States.
From generation to generation, Fulbright, by investing in students and scholars, reinvigorates our societies – helping us to do better and be better.
Fulbright is so successful because it harnesses exceptional talent.
Australian Dorothy Munro – Australia’s first Fulbright Scholar – created the first ever course in Pacific history taught in Australia.
American Thomas Pickering returned to the United States after his time as a Fulbright scholar in Australia to launch a stellar 40-year career as one of America’s most distinguished diplomats.
American Gordon Bell, considered the “Frank Lloyd Wright of computers,” taught the first ever computing course in Australia as a Fulbright scholar; he returned to America to help lead the digital revolution.
In the 1960s, Australian and American Fulbright scholars and alumni planned freedom rides in Australia, inspired by the Freedom Rides for civil rights in the United States.
ANU’s own legendary physicist Professor Robert Crompton lectured widely in the United States under the auspices of Fulbright.
And, in recent decades, Australian and American Fulbright scholars have made important contributions to the fight against devastating diseases and to global efforts to combat climate change. Fulbright’s longstanding relationship with the CSIRO has driven groundbreaking scientific research across the board: from agriculture to biomedicine to outer space.
These are just a few of the thousands of stories to tell. The Australian-American Fulbright Commission has awarded scholarships to over 5,000 Australians and Americans. Fulbright alumni can be found across this country and across disciplines. Fulbright Scholars are teachers, journalists, artists, scientists, and leaders in business and in government.
It is no accident that the newest Fulbright scholarships – including the ACT Government-sponsored Fulbright ACT Scholarship – are designed to spur cooperation in science, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Investment in these areas is how we create the jobs of the future.
To the alumni here today, you are Fulbright’s best Ambassadors. It’s not me – its you and everything you have achieved.
To the scholars, you are carrying forward a proud legacy. You may hear that you’re the future. You’re not the future. You’re the present. Think big and aim high.
To the sponsors, thank you for your invaluable support.
To those of you who are here because you are thinking about applying, I have two words of advice: apply now. A Fulbright scholarship or fellowship will not only change your life. It will give you the opportunity to change your world – our world – for the better.