UQ PhD student and Three Minute Thesis finalist Donna McDonald
UQ PhD student and Three Minute Thesis finalist Donna McDonald
15 September 2010

If you thought that being deaf could prevent you from winning a speaking contest, think again.

Donna McDonald is a PhD student who recently won the Arts Faculty final of the Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT), and will now progress to the UQ finals on September 20.

Developed by UQ in 2008, the 3MT is a skills development activity that challenges research higher degree (RHD) students to explain their research project to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.

“In my 3MT presentation I discuss my creative work, The Art of Being Deaf which is my personal memoir of deafness,” Ms McDonald said.

“I explain my exegesis (mini-thesis) which examines representations of deafness and deaf people in fiction, through consideration of literature’s influence in shaping perception.”

Deaf since birth, Ms McDonald said her involvement in the competition had been remarkably positive so far.

“I went into the Arts Faculty round of the 3MT expecting to enjoy myself (which I did) and to learn about the projects other students were research (which I did). I certainly did not expect to win and am still feeling chuffed. I have not won anything since a 2nd place ribbon for the egg and spoon race in 1962.”

With three degrees in arts, social work and creative writing, Ms McDonald is certainly on her way to achieving academic excellence and fulfilling her dreams despite having a disability.

She said she hoped to secure a post-doctoral fellowship or lecturing position in the area of literature and disability, with a view to influencing inclusive curriculum and engagement of all students in the subject of disability.

“My long-term ambition in this area to design a course in disability literature studies and teach it as well as continue my consultancy work in social inclusion and diversity with the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET),” she said.

Significant growth in the popularity of the event has led UQ to host the inaugural Australia & New Zealand 3MT Competition in 2010 as part of its Centenary celebrations.

Ms McDonald will compete with seven other students in the UQ 3MT Finals on Monday 20 September, with the winner representing the University in the inaugural Australia & New Zealand final on Tuesday September 21.

Prizes at both events include a $5,000 travel grant for the winner, $2,000 travel grant for the runner-up and $1,000 travel grant for the people’s choice award.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the finals, to be held in the UQ Centre Exhibition Hall at St Lucia from 3:30pm.

Master of Ceremonies is award-winning science writer, broadcaster and regular judge on ABC TV’s The New Inventors, Ms Bernie Hobbs, by arrangement with Claxton Speakers International.

You can register attendance at the 3MT events by visiting www.uq.edu.au/grad-school/3MT

Media: Jessica Gallagher (07 3346 0508, j.gallagher@uq.edu.au) or Carly Dengate at the UQ Graduate School (07 3346 0509, c.dengate@uq.edu.au)