Oxford calls for fine arts brain
Jessyca Hutchens has been accepted into both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Picture: Ian Munro / The West Australian

Being offered a place at just one of the world's leading universities is no small feat, so Jessyca Hutchens did not take her decision between Britain's Oxford and Cambridge universities lightly.

The 28-year-old indigenous graduate of the University of WA will move to England in September after she accepted Oxford's offer to undertake a three-year Doctorate of Philosophy in fine arts.

Ms Hutchens, a descendant of the Palyku people in the Pilbara, graduated with honours from UWA with a bachelor of arts in fine art history in 2010.

She has spent the past three years living in Berlin, where she has worked as an archival assistant and the editor of the website Berlin Art Link, and has been tutoring at UWA since December.

Ms Hutchens has been announced as one of three recipients of the national Charlie Perkins Scholarship - an award launched in 2009 in memory of the late Aboriginal leader, the first indigenous man to graduate from university. "Both offers were really amazing so it was a tough choice, but Cambridge offered me a masters, while Oxford offered me the full PhD," Ms Hutchens said.

Ms Hutchens, whose 24-year-old sister Rebecca this year became the first indigenous student to win the top prize for medicine at UWA, said her psychiatrist mother and indigenous heritage had driven her to succeed.

She developed an interest in art through her family and during her time in the special arts program at Applecross Senior High School. "My mum has been very successful and she really was a big inspiration to me and my sister," Ms Hutchens said.

"We have also had the privilege to know our indigenous heritage and culture because of my grandma's journey.

"It is a big part of who we are our drive to succeed. Getting a scholarship named after Charlie Perkins is an immense privilege."

The West Australian

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