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Dr Sarah Irving-Stonebraker (Irving, 1998): Senior Lecturer in Modern European History Historian
Sarah Irving-Stonebraker was deeply influenced by the school motto of Ut Prosim, that I may serve, and has lived by it since leaving Wenona in 1998.
Daughter of Wenonian Susan Chapman (1968), Sarah was the recipient of the Wenona Old Girls' Union Scholarship for Years 11 and 12, for which she was very grateful. "I consider myself enormously privileged to have attended a School in which the teachers were so dedicated to their students. Wenona fostered my interest in history, both ancient and modern, and this has become a lifelong passion and vocation."
Graduating Dux of the School in 1998, Sarah obtained a score of 100 in the University Admissions Index (now the ATAR). She went on to the University of Sydney where she graduated with First Class Honours and won the University Medal in History. Sarah was then awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship to the University of Cambridge to undertake her PhD and was a member of King's College. She wrote her PhD thesis on the relationship between science religion and the origins of the British Empire. "I was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford University, where I wrote my first book, Natural Science and the Origins of the British Empire. The book won The Royal Society of Literature and Jerwood Foundation Award for Non-fiction."
After spending five years in the UK, Sarah moved to America to become and Assistant Professor at Florida State University in 2008. "I returned home to Australian in 2012 with my young family and assumed the position of Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at Western Sydney University."
Reflecting on her time at Wenona, Sarah recalls that the extra-curricular activities she enjoyed most were Debating and Music. "Debating taught me to stand up in front of an audience and speak articulately, think clearly, and make and argument. Ever since, I've drawn upon not only the skills, but also the confidence that Debating gave me."
Sarah played violin in the orchestra and in the chamber ensemble, and flute in the concert band. "I've many fond memories of school soirees, especially the camaraderie of performing with my friends. I still play the violin, and played in the Cambridge University Philharmonic Orchestra, and in a string quartet just for fun when I lived in America. I made lifelong friends at Wenona, especially through Music and Debating."
Sarah plans to continue to serve others in her vocation as University Lecturer, using her mind and her abilities to serve by mentoring young women. "As it says in 1 Peter 4:10, 'Each of you should use whatever gift you have received, to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.' My advice to young Wenonians is to 'ask the big questions in life' (Romans 5:8)."