Alison O'Connor is one of only eight Australians to be awarded a prestigious General Sir John Monash Scholarship for postgraduate study.

The scholarships are awarded for outstanding academic ability, demonstrated leadership, and service to the community.

Alison won the University Medal in Sociology and was President of the United Nations Youth Association in NSW.

She will use her scholarship to study the role of satire and comedic social commentary in political engagement at New York University or University College Dublin.

"At first I was awe struck, now I'm just utterly thrilled and overwhelmed," said Alison, who is currently working at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences after graduating with a Bachelor of International Studies (Hons).

"Unlike the Rhodes or the Fulbright scholarships, I can choose where in the world I want to study and which university best suits my research needs," she said.

"I studied private military contractors post 9/11, where torture was briefly accepted by Western nations and that led to an interest in alternative ways of influencing political debate and democracy.

"Satire and political humour can be really powerful influences when the more traditional mechanisms of communication fail," said Alison, citing examples such as The Colbert Report, >The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity".

For a career, Alison would like to remain in academia. "Not many jobs allow you to explore social theory - I'd like to actively apply that theory to the lived experience."

Media contact: Fran Strachan | 9385 8732 | 0429 416 070