Meg Cummins, third from left, with representatives from UOW at the GradConnection Top 100 Future Leaders Awards. Photo: Supplied
Meg Cummins, third from left, with representatives from UOW at the awards.

UOW students among nation’s top future leaders

UOW students among nation’s top future leaders

Meg Cummins, Teja Roberts recognised in prestigious GradConnection awards

An engineering student who is passionate about STEM and a nursing student who is juggling her studies with family life have been recognised among the nation’s brightest young minds in the annual GradConnection 2020 Top 100 Future Leaders.

Meg Cummins, who is studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Scholar), majoring in Civil and Structural Engineering, was the winner of the Jacobs Engineering Consulting Award. 

Teja Roberts, who is undertaking a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Batesman Bay campus, was a finalist for the Broadspectrum Innovation Award. Meg Cummins, who is studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Scholar), majoring in Civil and Structural Engineering, is a finalist for the Jacobs Engineering Consulting Award. 

The awards were presented on Thursday (13 February) at a ceremony in Sydney, with the full list of winners and finalists today (Monday 17 February) published in The Australian Financial Review.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE congratulated Meg and Teja on their success and said he was delighted to have two students recognised in the Top 100 leaders from across Australia.

“It is a wonderful achievement to be recognised in these coveted awards,” Professor Wellings said. “Meg and Teja are a testament to the power of hard work, resilience, and a commitment to social justice. Both students are passionate about giving back to the community, which is a really valuable quality in a leader.

“Congratulations to Meg and Teja. It is the start of many wonderful things to come for both high-achieving students, and reflects UOW’s focus on producing career-ready graduates who are highly valued by employers.”

A mother of two, Teja said she is not a typical high achiever. She came to UOW in her early 20s, at a time when she had young children and was unsure what she wanted to do with her life. Her experiences with her children and with being a full-time carer to her husband, Tom, who has a rare neurodegenerative disorder, made her consider nursing.

Teja Roberts at the GradConnection Top 100 Future Leaders awards. Photo: Supplied

Teja Roberts, above, was a finalist in the awards. Photo: Supplied

However, Teja never imagined that just a few years after beginning her degree, she would be recognised as one of the most promising future leaders in Australia.

“As far as I can see, there’s never been a nursing student as a finalist in the GradConnection awards,” she said. “It feels really good to be a finalist but I was not expecting it.

 “In nursing, everything starts with communication and coming from a place of compassion. What’s good for one person is not necessarily good for the other. It’s about person-centred care. And that should apply to the people you are working with, as much as to the patients.”

In the Jacobs Engineering Consulting Award, Meg Cummins was named as the winner, in recognition of her commitment to social justice and for using engineering for humanitarian causes. As the youngest Deputy Chief Commissioner for Scouts NSW, Meg is passionate about empowering youth to make a difference locally and internationally.

She was one of the driving forces behind the UOW Humanitarian Engineering Society project in Rwanda, where students took part in building projects to help communities in the small African nation.

Meg also led UOW’s Desert Rose Solar Decathlon interior design team and has been a volunteer for the UOW STEM Camp for Girls, which aims to promote the importance of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) among female students.

For the first time in 2020, UOW has also sponsored the First in Family Award, which recognises the achievements and contributions of a student who is the first in their family to attend university. Linda Le, from Monash University, was the winner of the award. 

Nuala O'Donnell (left) and Ashleigh Holmes, from UOW's Careers Central, with the First in Family award winner Linda Le (centre). Photo: Supplied

Nuala O'Donnell, Director of Graduate Career Development and Employment at UOW, Linda Le, winner of the First in Family Award, and Ashleigh Holmes, Employer Programs Officer at UOW. Photo: Supplied

The Top 100 Future Leaders awards, conducted by employment website GradConnection and published in The Australian Financial Review, attracts thousands of applicants and brings together students, graduates, employers, academics, industry, and government.

Main photo: Meg Cummins with the University of Wollongong Careers Central team. Photo: Supplied