Bond law student Nick Mclean has scored the chance of a lifetime with a political placement at the Palace of Westminster in the United Kingdom, as part of a prestigious scholarship to the Hansard Scholars Programme awarded to just two high achieving undergraduates across the globe.
Mr Mclean was the inaugural recipient of the Hansard Society Magna Carta 800 Scholarship, launched this year to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, to participate in the exclusive Hansard Scholars 14-week Autumn Programme.
The Programme will enable Mr Mclean to gain valuable diplomatic and parliamentary experience by providing a wide range of opportunities, including the placement at the Palace of Westminster and an internship with Scottish National Party (SNP) member Stephen Gethins MP, Shadow Spokesperson for Europe and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Commons.
Mr Mclean, who is studying a dual degree in law and international relations at Bond University, hopes to pursue a diplomatic career post-university and has already notched up a long list of achievements.
"Last year I was lucky enough to complete a three-month internship at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Canberra, where I gained hands-on experience working in the diplomatic field, which solidified my interest in diplomacy as a future profession," he said.
"It also had the spillover effect of encouraging my participation in community activities; I became a young member of the Australian Council for Europe and an active member of the Brisbane Hub of the Global Shapers Community, a World Economic Forum initiative that encourages young leaders to make a positive contribution to their communities.
"Most recently, I conducted external research for the Australian Defence Association, which enabled me to explore the relationships between domestic policies and defence spending."
Mr Mclean said participating in the Hansard Scholars Programme was a unique opportunity that would help him advance towards his future career goals.
"Being awarded the Hansard Society Magna Carta 800 Scholarship was an extremely exciting moment for me and I'm determined to make the most of it, as the course offers amazing professional development and personal growth," he said.
"The Hansard Scholars Programme will help me to develop my professional skill-set within a unique environment, which utilises a supportive academic framework that underlies practical policy work.
"One of the elements I am most looking forward to is working in the Palace of Westminster. Learning how parliamentary processes apply in a real world context through firsthand experience will undoubtedly be the highlight of the programme for me.
"After university, ideally I would love to pursue a career in international diplomacy. I believe Central Asia is an emerging region of importance that Australia should be more receptive towards and I hope to one day be one of the foremost diplomats working in this region."
Mr Mclean said that another huge advantage of the scholarship was the chance to visit the United Kingdom for the first time.
"I have never been to the United Kingdom before, so I'm making the most of this trip by taking study visits to Cardiff and Edinburgh as part of the course, and hopefully Stonehenge will be ticked off my bucket list," he said.
"London is truly the definition of a global city, with something unique and exciting - quite literally - around every corner."
The Hansard Society Magna Carta 800 Scholarship was launched this year by the Hansard Society, with the support of the Magna Carta 800th Committee, and is worth a total of £10,250 (approximately AUD$21,900). It was awarded to two exceptional students from Commonwealth countries.