Jayne in HC Coombs Wonderland: In the words of a CHL Graduate and Medalist

Jayne Fendyk receiving her medal from The Hon Julie Bishop, ANU Chancellor
Jayne Fendyk receiving her medal from The Hon Julie Bishop, ANU Chancellor

Creativity in all shapes and forms can play a significant role in academia. This learning—a highlight from a subject she took with Associate Professor Shameem Black—was a real takeaway for Jayne Fendyk, CHL Master of Asian and Pacific Studies graduate of 2023 and Winner of the Postgraduate Medal for Academic Excellence.

In this spirit, on the occasion of her graduation day, Jayne thought to share a short story that she wrote about her time here at ANU. It’s called Jayne in the HC Coombs Wonderland--this very building where she had many classes and experienced her amazing postgraduate journey

Jayne Fendyk at the CHL Graduation Celebration
Jayne Fendyk at the CHL Graduation Celebration

One summers day, I saw a rabbit enter the HC Coombs building.

Having never seen it before, I ran after it with excited anticipation.

Three hexagonal buildings joined through a myriad of shared corridors.

I had entered the metaphorical equivalent of the rabbit hole.


I begin to look around. Am I in a vortex? A time machine?

I run up to the administrative desk to ask for help.

How do I get out of here?

You just need to obtain 96 credit points, they told me.  


That sounds simple enough. How do I do that?

You’ll need to complete 16 subjects. Okay…

…And write over 100,000 words.

…. And read thousands of pages of readings. Great.  


But surely there is an easier way?

I desperately look around for a backdoor or a corridor I hadn’t yet seen.

Please, you’ve got to tell me!

You can ask your friends and academics for help.

Jayne with Dr Eva Nisa
Jayne with Dr Eva Nisa

What? Don’t be silly.

I knew from my undergraduate degree that this is not how it works.

I’m meant to lock myself in the library and someone will come and rescue me when it’s all over.

Suit yourself, they told me before they disappeared into a puff of smoke.


I spot the rabbit heading to Dr Galway’s class on transnational histories.

Immediately I see my friend Yahya, who is staring at a map of the world.

Perhaps he knows the answer.  

Yahya, how do we get out of here?


Dr Galway told me to read between the lines.

Really? We stare at the map a little longer… and eventually, the lines begin to disappear.

Instead, we read about people and important figures whose lives transcend borders we take for granted today.

As the lines disappear, we find a new portal and we enter together…



Together, we spot our friends Yang and Galih in the library.  

Except the library is not filled with books.   

It’s filled with pictures, and fabrics, and threads. 

They hold secrets of the world beyond anything we could ever write on a page.

Jayne Fendyk with The Hon Julie Bishop, ANU Chancellor
Jayne Fendyk with The Hon Julie Bishop, ANU Chancellor

All of a sudden the ground shakes and a mountain appears before our very eyes  … Thesis Mountain.

As large as the Himalayas, I see my friend Samantha also looking up in horror. 

At the top we can see the rabbit, and not too far in front we see our trusty sherpa or supervisor, Dr Nisa.

She was always one step ahead of us …


However, with her words of encouragement we start to speed up

I can no longer see the rabbit

But I can see all of our academics and fellow student comrades

Their cheering us on as we near the top


If you hadn’t been able to tell, there was no rabbit. It was the degree.

And even then, getting the degree was not the goal. 

It was the opportunity to share an intellectual journey with so many wonderful students and academics from around the world.

And I’m grateful that I get to celebrate with you all today.

Still basking in the glow of Tuesday’s graduation, please join me in congratulating my outstanding MA student, Jayne Fendyk. She has just been awarded the “Postgraduate Medal for Academic Excellence” for her exceptional thesis titled “‘We work as one’: Feminist Activism and the Passage of Indonesia’s Anti-Sexual Violence Law.” Jayne truly deservers this honor, and it has been my privilege to work with her on this remarkable thesis.

I am continually impressed by her outstanding work ethics and academic excellence. Special thanks to the ANU Indonesia Project for their invaluable support of Jayne’s research. Jayne received a generous grant from the ANU Indonesia Project as the recipient of the Student Research Grant. She is also a recipient of the 2022 Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship.

These achievements are a testament to Jayne’s unwavering commitment to academic excellence. Please join me in celebrating the well-deserved success of this extraordinary young scholar, Jayne Fendyk. Witnessing her academic growth fills me with confidence in the bright future of our disciplines within the School of Culture, History & Language, College of Asia & the Pacific at ANU, the Australian National University. Cheers to Jayne and her remarkable accomplishments -- Dr Eva Nisa