THERE was an obvious celebratory vibe among the smiling and relaxed faces of the latest crop of University of Wollongong Bega campus graduands.
Dressed in their formal blue robes and mortar boards, the graduands gathered with family and friends and UOW officials at the Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club on Monday to mark this special occasion.
UOW deputy vice-chancellor (education) Professor Eeva Leinonen was delighted to preside over her first Bega campus graduation ceremony and had nothing but praise for the Bega campus and the local area.
“This is the most remarkable place,” said Finnish-born Professor Leinonen, who took up her post at Wollongong only 12 months ago.
In her congratulatory address, Professor Leinonen applauded the work of local staff and the larger Bega Valley community in supporting the students’ achievements.
Professor Leinonen, who came from Kings College at the University of London, spoke about the importance of major universities, such as Wollongong, in having a regional campus available to the local community.
“Since the UOW Bega campus began in 2000 there have been 350 local graduates in total from the six degrees offered.
“It’s also very important to have a graduation ceremony for these people locally so family and friends can be involved.
“This is a day for the graduates and post graduates, their families and friends; it’s a real celebration,” Professor Leinonen said.
She said the Bega campus has a good mix of students, both mature age and young, and a range of courses which meet the needs of the community.
Coordinator of the Graduate Diploma in Education Dr Susan Duchesne gave the occasional address commending the graduands for their commitment and focus.
Arts graduate Brooke Innes gave the vote of thanks, and spoke of the community feel of the Bega campus and the considerable support she and her fellow students enjoyed from staff and other students.
“To the graduates of 2013 I wish us all well as we begin our journeys into a world of discovery and embark towards great accomplishments,” Ms Innes said.
Bega student Jodie Stewart received a Bachelor of Arts Honours first class majoring in history.
Ms Stewart has an obvious passion for her chosen field of study and the UOW Bega campus.
She decided to return to study for her Honours, after graduating with her BA in 2010, because of her love of studying, particularly history.
“I love research and writing and my Honours was focused on a higher research project.”
She is now considering following up with a PhD in history next year.
While studying for her Honours, Ms Stewart tutored at the campus in the School of History and Politics and also occasionally offered managerial support to the campus manager.
“I really like the UOW community and its collegial atmosphere.”
Degrees conferred yesterday included the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Arts Honours, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Nursing and Graduate Diploma in Education, Primary and Secondary.
UoW Bega class of 2013
Bachelor of Arts: Shanice Briones, Georgia Brown, Damon Buckley, Donna Campbell, Hannah Cole, Stephanie Gibbs, Brooke Innes, Kerry Johnson, Graeme Meredith, Andrew Noyce, Jade Torr, Carly Wotton McMahon
Bachelor of Arts Honours: Jodie Stewart
Bachelor of Commerce: David Cowles, Hannah Johnston Hayes
Bachelor of Nursing: Mel Callaghan, Megan Olsen, Vicki Sant, Miranda Shearer, Kim Taylor, Wayne Thomas, Sam Wearne, Sonia White
Graduate Diploma in Education Primary: Michelle Bartlett, Sam Brown, Erin Feneck, Rebecca Foster, Mark Moses, Jessica Peart, Paul Schuhkraft
Graduate Diploma in Education Secondary: Kate Benedyka, Charlotte Cheadle, Tim Dowman, Fiona Fulton-Allen, Kylie Gibson, Tanja Riese, Julie Slater