Hundreds of hours of study and hard work have paid off for students who were celebrated at the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC) spring graduation ceremonies.
Held last week at UniSC’s Sippy Downs campus, the graduations represented each student’s commitment to a better future for themselves, their communities and further afield. Among those receiving degrees was Bachelor of Counselling graduate James Hill, who earned the top graduate award: the Chancellor’s Medal.
Mr Hill (pictured), who volunteers with Beyond Blue and the UniSC Thompson Institute among others, was recognised for his award-winning and wide-ranging mental health advocacy, as well as his academic achievements.
“I share my own lived experience with severe mental illness because I want to help reduce suicide rates on the Coast and around the world,” Mr Hill says.
He works in a mental health advocate position he helped develop at Energy Queensland to reduce stigma in the electricity industry. The 46-year-old, whose approach to mental health promotion challenges traditional notions of masculinity and suffering, says he is extremely proud of his grade point average of 6.21 out of 7.
“I left school in Year 11 with poor grades and lived with undiagnosed ADHD until 2020,” he says. “Study has always been difficult … (but) I now have a deeper understanding of how to apply my experiences and skills to help others.”
Other graduates include a proud mum from Nambour preparing to make a career change to bone science.
Ruth Duong, 39, graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and a University Medal for Academic Excellence (GPA of at least 6.8 out of 7). She is now studying towards an Honours degree in medical science, with a focus on bone biology – particularly early-onset osteoporosis in Down syndrome, using a human stem cell model.
UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Helen Bartlett congratulates the graduates for their successes and reflects on the resilience of the cohort – most of whom began three-year degrees during COVID-19.