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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Awards Night

USSC alumna Freya Bruce-Gilchrist graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Honours) and was a recipient of the University Medal. Here she writes about her experience at the FASS awards night in May 2023.

The FASS Honours awards night was created to celebrate the accomplishments of the Honours cohort, and honour (pun intended) the complexity of their works. Students were nominated for consideration by a staff member (I was nominated by USSC senior lecturer Dr Rodney Taveira) based on their academic merit, before a board of judges examined each of the works and shortlisted 18 students. Students and their thesis supervisors were then required to submit a 500-word defence of their theses, arguing the relevance of their work both on an interdisciplinary and global level. From this group, six students were formally shortlisted.

These six students (myself included) were then invited to an in-person exhibition night at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, to demonstrate and defend their works before guests of family and friends. The night started with an exhibition, which was like a formal science fair. Each student had a table and a LED screen, with the option of also having a tall bulletin board. We each had creative freedom to decorate the area as we saw fit, in a way that would best convey the point of our thesis while also making it engaging for the audience. I set my area up like a theatre since my thesis was on paratheatre, with a red curtain and playbills hung up and newspaper reviews on the table.

Guests walk around to each of the booths and ask questions about the student's thesis. It was a nice way to personally engage with everyone who attended and convey the core tenets of the thesis (if only briefly). The exhibition portion ran for an hour, after which we moved to the auditorium of the museum. It was here that each of the nominees presented a five-minute speech, formally demonstrating the point of their thesis and its academic relevance to the world. After the speeches, the audience voted to determine the recipients of the prizes: 1st place won $5,000 and 2nd place won $3,000 while the remaining four won $1,000.

Overall, it was a really lovely night, and a great way to both feel acknowledged and acknowledge others. An Honours thesis is such an odd experience because it basically consumes you for an entire year, you live and breathe your thesis, but after you submit it that's (usually) it. So, to have the chance to return to it and have it be recognised is really rewarding. (The prize doesn't hurt either!)