Student Stories

Student Success Story: Amanda Wells

Nathan Little
Manager, Communications & Programs
April 4, 2024

"In the thick of the 2020 pandemic, while living in western Melbourne, I faced what felt like a mid-thirties crisis. I pondered over what to do next with my life. Given the global upheaval, I sensed it was now or never to embark on the PhD journey I had always envisioned."

This is how Amanda Wells describes the inception of her PhD journey, a path that led her to explore her grandfather's role in the Riverland's citrus industry post-Second World War. Amanda's quest was not just personal but an underexplored niche in historical research.

"My research started with my grandfather but soon expanded to the broader question of how the citrus industry shaped the Riverland and vice versa. It’s an environmental history question at its core, exploring the symbiosis between humans and nature. Yet, it’s also about agriculture, labour, society, and science. Essentially, it’s a story of people, places, and oranges."

Relocating back to South Australia in 2022, Amanda found an invaluable ally in the Barossa Regional University Campus. "Being near historical sites was brilliant! And the access to the State Library’s archive for in-person research was excellent. However, trying to adapt my small granny flat into a workspace on a PhD budget was less than ideal."

"The Barossa Campus space has been a game-changer for me, offering the quiet and uncluttered environment essential for deep focus. Writing a PhD thesis requires more than just big ideas; it's about thorough thought, strong, evidence-backed arguments, and continuous refinement. Without the campus's facilities and, notably, the coffee machine, the connections I've made in my research would have been unattainable."

Amanda also highlights the social aspect of the Barossa Campus: "Doing a higher degree by research can be isolating. The process involves a lot of archival work, reading, writing, and rewriting—activities that aren't inherently social. But having fellow students around, plus the excellent staff to chat with, has made this journey much less lonely and far more enjoyable."

As she approaches her PhD's conclusion, Amanda reflects on the essentials that the Barossa Campus has provided: "I am grateful for the simple things—time and space to write, people to share the journey with, and, of course, coffee."

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