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Alice Lang Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship

Saturday 1 January, 2011
by New College Admin
Alice Lang is the fourth New Collegian to become a Rhodes Scholar

New College is thrilled to announce that Alice Lang is the fourth New Collegian to become a Rhodes Scholar. Alice was stunned when she discovered that she had been named as one of only eight Australians this year to be awarded the prestigious, postgraduate scholarship. Rhodes Scholarships provide transformative opportunities and financial support for exceptional individuals, encouraging them to "fight the world's fight" throughout their lives and contribute to their international understanding while they study at the University of Oxford.

Alice says she is very excited about heading to Oxford, where she will be studying economics. “My interest in economics has been developing over the last few years and I'm keen to have the chance to study that in greater detail, in an environment where you have to defend your ideas constantly, in small groups and tutorials. Of course, the joke is that the best thing about Oxford is Paris, and I'm looking forward to doing some more travel in Europe and the UK.” In particular Alice is glad to be studying a course that demands she make the connections between the social, technical, financial and moral aspects of communities and the world. “Some people get the wrong idea when I say "economics", and imagine it is all maths and formulae, whereas I see it very much as a social science to gain a better understanding of how societies are constructed (or how they emerge) and what makes things happen within them.”

Alice, came from Canberra to undertake a double major in Engineering (Photovoltaics and Solar Energy)/Arts . She achieved 1st Class Honours in Engineering and will complete the Arts degree in semester 1 before heading for Oxford in August. She has won numerous awards along the way and sustained a high distinction average.

Over her five years in residence at New (2006-2010) Alice has represented the college in Water Polo and running, danced in revues and the 2009 production of Kiss Me Kate, and produced the New College Revue in 2007. Her academic proclivity was evident from early in her studies at UNSW, earning her the New College Award in 2007. Alice was part of the J-Ride team in 2009, that rode their bicycles from New College to Canberra to raise money for their ill friend and fellow-collegian, Jared Pritchard. Alice was an Academic Tutor at New College (2007) and a Resident Advisor (2009-2010). The RA role suited her fun and caring personality and endeared her to many collegians.

When asked about her time at College Alice says, “New has been incredible - it has challenged me (hugely) and helped me (immeasurably). I feel privileged to have been here - it's not always perfect, but the people, and the sense of community, and the friends I've made have been amazing.” Alice says she will not miss fire alarms but will definitely miss living with such an interesting group of people and having so many friends so close by. “New College has given me a great amount of respect for people who try hard to understand who they are, what they believe, and what they're doing in the world. I hope it has made me more tolerant and compassionate.”

Given a chance to influence the world, Alice would like to encourage people to be more tolerant of one another and really investigate why they believe certain things, and how those beliefs can and should affect their relationships with other people. An avid debater and someone who has volunteered for numerous humanitarian organisations, Alice is frustrated and saddened when people suffer violence and discrimination because of characteristics such as their gender, sexual orientation or religion.

Alice is hoping that after studying economics at Oxford she will be better equipped to influence the Australian debate on energy policy, which she thinks needs a lot more consistency than at present. “Investors, technicians, commercial operators and consumers need to be confident of what the commercial environment will be in the short, medium and long-term future”, says Alice. “We should invest in technologies that have been shown to work, and support Australian innovations through to commercial viability here in Australia.

Alice doesn’t see herself as having all the answers to Australia’s current energy policy challenges, that’s why she wants to keep studying. However, surveying the situation Alice says “there should be a more serious and committed effort to do the relatively simple things that would assist with a more efficient use of energy within businesses and households. These might include a (hopefully more successful) reprisal of the home insulation initiative, better training programs about how to make houses more energy efficient and financial incentives to reduce energy use. I would have thought spending less on energy would be an incentive, but it doesn't always seem to work like that”, says Alice. “Overall, it needs to be easy for people to do these things. With a change in energy technology, the consumer shouldn't really notice any difference. It needs to be seen as something that is simple and obvious.”

For now, however, Alice’s mind is set on solving practical problems such as where she will live for the two years of her study at Oxford. “I’d like to be at a college that has a bit of that ‘Harry Potter’ air about it”, says Alice. Of the Colleges she is looking into Balliol and Magdelen are possibilities but New College, Oxford is certainly on the list. In any case, the New College community in Australia wishes Alice every success, safety and unimaginable levels of Harry-Potter-style-fun as she embarks upon a road that few have travelled.