Sarah Backhouse BJapS '94, BEc '94, Chair of the ANU Foundation USA Board, was drawn to study at ANU because of its world-class economics and Asian studies programs. She credits the study-abroad program in her ANU degree, which allowed her to interact with students from around the world, for preparing her for a global career.
Today, as a sustainability expert and a global communications leader, she has a close understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world around us.
"Many are grappling with isolation, financial uncertainty, and fears for their health and those of their loved ones," said Sarah.
When she heard about the challenges being faced by the ANU community due to COVID-19, Sarah felt compelled to provide support.
"I wanted to contribute to the relief funds for the students and staff at ANU to help ease the economic hardship caused by COVID-19," said Sarah. "As an ANU alumna, I am grateful for the education and experiences I gained, and wanted to do my small part to pay it forward to the ANU community."
She says the pandemic has amplified systemic challenges that have long existed in society.
"COVID-19 is an opportunity to ask ourselves big questions, like - how do we address income inequality? How do we prevent further loss of biodiversity? What kind of healthcare system do we want? How do we stop climate change? How can we create a more just and inclusive society?"
Sarah represents one of the key strengths of ANU - our rich and diverse global community that actively cares for and supports our staff and students here in Australia.
"In this era of social distancing, it's more important than ever to reach across the pond, the screen, or the table to seek connection with others," said Sarah. "Being generous with time, resources and empathy will help alleviate the pain of those mostly acutely experiencing it."
The generosity of the ANU community - here in Australia and across the world - has helped to support 58 staff with $96,500 in funds disbursed through the ANU Staff Urgent Relief Fund.
To provide security and stability to students facing unexpected hardship, the ANU Student Urgent Relief Fund has raised $165,000. These funds are helping those students most affected - in particular international students, those from rural and remote areas and students who are also carers.
The ANU Foundation USA plays an important role in keeping our global community connected.
"I want to continue to build the ANU alumni community in the US, and also create opportunities to convene and share ideas and experiences," said Sarah.