MATTEA MRKUSIC

Service to the Community Award 2015

Human Rights and Climate Change (20 years old) | SPONSORED BY ASB

A former Head Girl and Academic Dux of Takapuna Grammar, Mattea won a Bellingham Wallace AIMES Emerging Talent Award in 2012 and went on to represent New Zealand as Head Delegate at The Hague International Model United Nations conference.

In 2013, Mattea commenced study at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Political Science. There she was awarded the position of Ormond Scholar, received First Class Honours each semester, and was placed on the Dean’s  List (top 3% of students academically).  Outside of her studies she became the Professional Engagement Officer of UN Youth Victoria Australia and was Editor-in-Chief of The Ormondian, one of the university’s bi-weekly publications.

After a year and a half at the University of Melbourne, Mattea applied to transfer to Harvard University and was accepted as one of twelve transfer students offered a place globally. She has submerged herself in various activities, such as serving as the Senior Multimedia Editor of Harvard Political Review. This summer, she worked as the climate displacement intern at Refugees International, a Washington D.C.-based refugee organisation, and attended the annual United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) NGO consultations in Geneva.

Intensely passionate about the issue of climate displacement, Mattea is determined to dedicate her career to this emerging humanitarian crisis.

In December, Mattea will represent a New Zealand youth voice at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 21 climate negotiations in Paris. In particular, she hopes to encourage New Zealand to play a stronger role in supporting climate change frontline communities in the Pacific. 
 

In 2016, Mattea will undertake a semester-long research and advocacy project in Kiribati, where she will study the impact of climate displacement on our Pacific neighbours. She hopes to publish her findings in her Harvard thesis working in collaboration with Professor Sunil Amrith, who specialises in climate displacement and environmental history.

Following her undergraduate studies, Mattea plans to pursue a human rights law degree at Harvard, Yale or Oxford and would ultimately like to work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.