Danny Kenny playing for ANU Football

It’s a goal

20 December 2015

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Football is the name of the game for one Crawford School student, but he has also just scored the Tiri Tiri Prize and bagged himself a Master of Environmental Management and Development.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri in the US, Danny Kenny did his undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies at a small school in central Illinois called Illinois Wesleyan.

After he graduated, he got a job working in the Office of Legislative Affairs for the Governor of Illinois.

“The position was incredibly interesting and remarkably valuable, but when a scholarship opportunity through Rotary arrived to obtain my Master’s abroad, I jumped at the chance,” he said.

“Explore overseas and leave the messy world of politics for a while? Yes please.”

But it was a whirlwind experience preparing for the move down under.

“I found out the scholarship had come through in early-mid December, and I was expected to report for orientation at ANU in early January, so there was a bit of a panicked, rapid scramble to pull everything together, but, fortunately, it all did, including the successful return of my visa application in two days,” he said.

“The US could use some pointers from Australia on the quick visa turn-around because that was incredible and appreciated.”

Despite the swift state-side exit he made sure his football jersey was safely packed.

“I was really impressed I was able to continue my soccer career with ANU Football Club. I played in college in the US, but it was a welcome surprise to find out the opportunity existed at ANU, and playing at a competitive level again has done wonders for my fitness and my sanity,” he said.

It is also clear he is enjoying the competitive sporting banter too.

“There are some very talented athletes here at ANU, and at Crawford School (as showcased by the soccer tournament that the POGO team stole… sorry…won).”

The Rotary Global Grant Scholarship gives young professionals the opportunity to do postgraduate study in several countries around the world, but Crawford was a clear winner for Danny.

“While I applied to schools in South America, Costa Rica, and a few other places, the more I read about ANU, the more it seemed like a great fit,” he said.

“Rotary has a big focus on economic and community development, and during my undergraduate degree, I did work with our Action Research Center, which focused on empowering students to partner with community groups to make some really awesome change happen.

“That kind of empowering, community-driven development has been a focus of mine, and combined with what I learned about policy in the Governor’s Office; Crawford School seemed like the next logical step to combine that knowledge and develop my skills.”

His work at the Illinois Governor’s Office in the States gave him the drive to seek further study and dig deeper into important issues.

“When I was working at the Governor’s Office, I was given these remarkable insights into how polices are actually made, but it seemed like there was little to no input from actual communities.

“The intersection between effective and practical community development and a supporting policy framework was either non-existent, or exceedingly rare, and I had a problem with that.

“The Rotary scholarship, and Crawford School offered an education designed to address that gap, and I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to study at here.”

Danny has also been struck by the diversity and expertise of the student and academic population at ANU.

“The daily interactions and conversations that I get to be a part of with people from Myanmar, China, Pakistan, Mozambique, Honduras, the Solomon Islands, Chile, and everywhere else, has made this experience worthwhile,’ he said.

“It also helps when you have faculty that have been, and continue to be, incredibly active in their respective fields through their research, but also by attending international conferences, collaborating with peers around the world, and seeking to apply their expertise in a meaningful way. To me, that’s what academia should be, and if I end up staying in the academic realm, I now have a pretty great model to follow.”

Danny was awarded the Tiri Tiri Prize for his academic performance at Friday’s graduation party at Crawford School and he not ready to stop excelling and exploring new opportunities just yet.

“It is an honour and a privilege to win the prize and one I do not take for granted.”

“I had a lot of help along the way, so I am thankful to everyone who brought me to this point and a special shoutout to my parents and to my family for giving the green light to moving thousands of miles away across the ocean. Their support has meant the world to me.

“Crawford has given me a global education that I can translate into skills and employment that makes a difference. I want to be able to contribute meaningfully to the conversation on the environment and sustainability, and this degree has helped me to take several steps down that path.”

Apply to study at Crawford School of Public Policy today and find out where your studies could take you.

By Kelly Hayward

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