From Melbourne to Harvard

For 29-year-old Daniel Hanrahan, the opportunity of a lifetime is just beginning.

He is about to start his Master of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School thanks to the financial support he has received from the John and Eric Smyth Travelling Scholarship.

The funds enable Daniel to travel to Harvard, cover tuition, and most of his living expenses.

In 1926, and with incredible foresight, Professor John Smyth bequeathed the scholarship, so a University of Melbourne education student could gain international study and research experience. Smyth valued education and addressed this in his will, writing about his belief in ‘the uplifting power of the school in modern society’.

He recognised the need for worldly experience in early-career teachers to learn from other institutions and bring back the knowledge to benefit the community. Over the course of many years, the scholarship – established in perpetuity – has grown to become one of the most prestigious in Australia.

Daniel Hanrahan outside the Harvard Kennedy School

"I want to find a way to change the perception of teaching, to show people that teaching is a really exciting profession and one to revere."

Daniel taught at Robinvale, one of the most disadvantaged rural schools in Victoria, before joining the Department of Education to re-engage at-risk students back into the school system.

“Most people pursue teaching not for the money but because they’re looking for meaning and to help students reach their best,” said Daniel, who studied Commerce and Science before turning to teaching.

“My experience in teaching showed me how important it is for Australia to have a strong education system with excellent teachers present in all our schools.”

The opportunity at Harvard means that he can specialise in educational policy with a particular focus on building policies to attract and retain high quality teachers. He hopes he can translate this into practice back here in Australia.

“Demonstrating strong results at one of the top education schools in the world undoubtedly helped me in the admission process to Harvard,” he said. “The high expectations placed on the Melbourne Master of Teaching students and exposure to so many impressive peers helped to raise my aspirations for future pursuit.”

Daniel believes that too often teaching is overlooked as an intellectually demanding job.

Eligibility for this prestigious scholarship requires applicants to hold both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the University of Melbourne and to be under the age of 30.