“The Spirit of the Braxton Bursaries”: How One Student is Helping his Community 

To me, politics would be the best way to fight the issue, at its roots.

Thomas Watson

Political activists and student led action have become a defining feature that sets the University of Queensland apart from many of its peers. This can be seen through a proud history, from student resistance during the Bjelke-Petersen era of the 1970s and 1980s, to the contemporary and often controversial political firebrands of today. I sit down with UQ undergraduate student and Braxton Bursary scholarship recipient, Thomas Watson, to discuss his thoughts and aspirations.

Written by Thomas Ross

“Both my parents were teachers, they worked in schools that would be considered as very disadvantaged. I knew I had to get involved and try to help. To me, politics would be the best way to fight the issue, at its roots,” Tom Watson notes.

Originally from the city of Launceston, Tom always knew that his ambition to study in Queensland was going to be financially costly. As such, Watson applied to the numerous scholarship programs offered at the University of Queensland. Fortunately, Watson was one of the successful applicants for the prestigious Braxton Bursary scholarship. Established in 2004, the Braxton Bursary scholarship was created with the intention of aiding students facing financial hardship in the fields of social science, political science, and government. 

The scholarship is awarded annually on the conditions of strong academic performance and a commitment to leadership. Embodying these values, Watson aims to use the knowledge he has gained at UQ to create a dialogue between the government and low socioeconomic areas to create meaningful change. He wants Tasmania’s youth to advocate for themselves. Above all, it has allowed Watson to fully commit to his studies explaining,

“I am very thankful, and it has definitely made a huge difference, I would honestly recommend that anyone should at least apply”. 

Watson embodies the spirit of the Bursaries through his commitment to leadership and issues relating to social justice. When he isn’t studying, Watson helps high school students find their voice in politics through his work with Tasmanian youth parliament: “It was an opportunity I was really lucky to have when I was in high school, and I knew that I still wanted to remain involved”.  

Outside the sphere of politics, Tom’s love of the natural world has been a grounding presence and source of stress relief to his busy academic and work schedule (30 hours a week at Subway). “Growing up in Tasmania, you’re lucky enough to be constantly surrounded by nature, I went to Cradle Mountain pretty much every holiday”.  It makes sense that Watson is an active participant in the UQ Hiking Society. “I didn’t know much about Queensland when I got here, so the UQ Hiking Society has been a great way to see the scenery and meet some new people, definitely go find a club or society that relates to your interests”. Overall, the financial aid that the scholarship has provided has assisted Watson to pursue his passion for politics and student life at the University of Queensland.

For more information on scholarships and the application process visit the UQ website at https://scholarships.uq.edu.au/ 


Bachelor of Arts (Political Science)