Energy and Empowerment in New York City

Thomas Boak, 2021 Fulbright Future Scholarship (Funded by The Kinghorn Foundation), Columbia University

My Fulbright Scholarship has had a profound impact on my personal, professional and academic life. It has allowed me to make invaluable connections, develop technical expertise, and immerse myself in a diverse cultural environment.

The Fulbright has allowed me to study at Columbia University in New York, and vastly expand my academic horizons. This included through classes on the energy system, economics, statistics, leadership, social impact campaigns, and geopolitics. Beyond the classroom, modelling economic warfare in the Indo-Pacific with Eurasia Group and participating in conferences such as the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference gave me a greater understanding of geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific region. I have also had the opportunity to delve deeply into the geopolitics of the energy transition by drafting a chapter for a book through the Center for Global Energy Policy. These experiences enabled the recipient to learn from diverse perspectives and contribute my own viewpoint.

In terms of professional growth, the Fulbright has allowed me to build my professional networks through students and teaching staff at Columbia and other Fulbrighters.

It has also allowed me to apply the expertise I have developed in the workplace, including as a graduate consultant for the Eurasia Group and for a US solar manufacturer company. My success in this was demonstrated by our invitation to present our findings at the White House and the US Senate Majority Leader’s Office. My Fulbright experience has allowed me to bring these networks and experiences back to Australia and will undoubtedly assist my career.

Finally, beyond the academic and professional aspects, the Fulbright has provided life-changing opportunities for personal growth. This included making friends and connections with fellow students from the 70 countries represented in my cohort at Columbia. This network has exposed me to a wide range of new perspectives, inspiring me and enriching my understanding of the world. Living in New York City, a global cultural hub, has also offered unparalleled exposure to different cultures, art forms, and ways of life.

In the last two years, Fulbright has also allowed me to travel across the US and explore this beautiful and diverse country, making great friends along the way. These personal experiences have shaped and will continue to shape my life, for which I will always be grateful. Fulbright has been a life-changing experience for me, broadening my academic horizons, building my professional networks and experiences, and facilitating my personal growth.,