SSAA announces final 2015 Academic Bursary Program recipients

The final two recipients in the 2015 SSAA Academic Bursary Program have been named, with a total of seven scholars now benefiting from the student grants initiative. Five students received donations in September and joining them on the awards list are Victorian Thomas Edwards and Dan Rowe, who hails from Kaleen in Canberra.

If you would like to apply for assistance for your tertiary studies or you would like to find out more, visit the SSAA Academic Bursary Program.

Thomas Edwards

Thomas Edwards, 20, is originally from Swan Hill, and is studying Law and Criminology at Deakin University in Geelong. He has been allocated $1500, which he will use towards paying his rent, buying textbooks and possibly studying overseas. “People have no idea how much this will help with my costs,” he said. “It’s fantastic. I’m in the third year of a five-year course so it is pretty hefty.”

Like the rest of the winners, Thomas’s topic of study equates to the viewpoints and values enshrined within the SSAA. He says that he has a passion for his Bachelor of Law and Criminology degree, with the long-term goal to become a lawyer in Victoria, specifically a barrister in the field of criminal law.

But where does law and criminology fit into the scheme of professional firearm philosophy and the SSAA’s future aims? Thomas has the answer to that. “I aim to specialise in the relevant fields of law and thus become an advocate for lawful use of firearms and the protection of proper and professional shooting and hunting,” he said.

“I grew up on a farm in Swan Hill and have been a passionate pest hunter since the age of 12, mainly shooting foxes and rabbits. As a keen hunter, I am tailoring my law electives towards criminal law and commercial transaction, intending to first work in firearm insurance before making a career out of public prosecution and defence.

“I aim to specialise in breaches of weapon legislation, primarily the Firearms Act 1996 (Victoria). Doing this is vital for the SSAA and all firearm users, as prosecuting criminal breaches of ‘gun law’ protects the industry for everyone by removing those who threaten its existence.”

Thomas comes from a modest financial background and is very grateful to receive cash backing from the SSAA. He is also aware of the stiff competition in trying to gain employment in his field. To that end, he is looking to spread his wings and bidding to enrol on some international study programs, which would add a further dimension to his attributes.

“I tried for a place on a program in the US this year, but they were only taking people over 21,” he said. “But I have every intention of trying to get on a three-week course in either New York or Washington at the end of 2016.

“The American gun laws are such a contrast to the ones we have in Australia and it will be fascinating to come back here afterwards to see how they compare. The States’ laws seem a bit more dynamic than Australia.”

Dan Rowe

Meanwhile, Dan Rowe is a 33-year-old postgraduate student who has begun a Graduate Certificate of Environmental Management at the University of New South Wales. He has been granted monetary assistance totalling $1000 from the SSAA scheme, which he will use to help to pay off fees, which are in excess of $6000.

“I am actually doing the course from Canberra as ‘done in distance’ and a lot of it is online,” he said. “But sometimes I do go up to Sydney for hands-on stuff. It would be good to be up there a bit more often so maybe this money could help me with that too.

“I am just so stoked to receive the award and the momentum that it will give me, along with the recognition.”

Dan is relishing the next steps along his educational path after completing several years of higher education at both vocational and tertiary levels. Some of the other subjects that Dan has tackled along the way include Biology, Resource Mapping, Recreational Leadership and Communication, as well as Cultural Resource Management. He is already looking ahead and has some ideas in place. “After I complete the Graduate Certificate, I intend to enrol in the Master of Environmental Management and specialise in the management of invasive species,” he said. “I am currently undertaking an internship with the CSIRO, which requires a small team to analyse, interpret and pick apart the current environmental planning strategy documents prepared by the ACT Government.”

As a member of the SSAA, Dan understands the synergy between the bedrock of the organisation and the work entailed in his degree. “On completion of my degree, I intend to use the skills I gain to work with government and non-governmental organisations to help solve the issues surrounding introduced species in Australia,” he said.

“By being a member of the SSAA and working within the environmental management field, I would strive to be a strong advocate for the Association and the sport by helping to break down the negative connotations surrounding shooting and firearms within the ranks of the general public and ill-informed public sector.”

Away from his studies, Dan is a keen hunter. “A mate of mine and myself like to shoot a few deer down at a property in Wangaratta,” he said. “And I also try to bag a few pigs and rabbits on some small properties that my parents have. I just wish I had time to go more often.”

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