Family ties at the centre of regional graduations

Family ties at the centre of regional graduations

Students from South Coast and Southern Highlands celebrate the end of their studies during a week of ceremonies

It will be a week of celebrations for students from the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) South Coast and Southern Highlands campuses, with the regional campuses to hold their annual graduation ceremonies.

More than 125 students from Shoalhaven in the north to Bega Valley in the south, and stretching west to the Southern Highlands, will mark the completion of their studies.

UOW Bega Valley will celebrate 30 graduates on Tuesday (23 January) at Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre. The following day (Wednesday 24 January), UOW Eurobodalla will hold its ceremony, with 24 graduates, at Bay Pavilions in Batemans Bay. Students from UOW Shoalhaven and UOW Southern Highlands will celebrate as one on Thursday (25 January) at Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre, with 73 graduates from across the two campuses.

UOW Chancellor Michael Still, who will be the Presiding Officer of the academic procession during all three ceremonies, said regional graduations were a wonderful way to begin the new year.

“Graduation is a time of celebration, a time to reflect on the incredible accomplishments of our students and how far they have come in their academic journeys,” Mr Still said. 

“Many graduates are heading off into the world, while others are continuing their studies, but it is so important to take the time to acknowledge the immense contribution they have made to the University and everything they have achieved during their time with us.”

UOW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Patricia M Davidson said regional campuses are integral to their communities, providing a significant driver of jobs and economic activity.

“Regional campuses are critical to UOW’s focus on driving student equity and access outcomes, by delivering world class education close to home, that helps people get skilled and secure work,” Professor Davidson said.

“This week is a celebration of our wonderful graduates and recognition of the enormous contribution that regional campuses make to communities across the South Coast and Southern Highlands.”

Family will be the theme of the week, with several multi-generational pairings celebrating their ties to UOW.

Mother and daughter Holli and Nicole Pritchard will each graduate with a Bachelor of Nursing from UOW Eurobodalla. Nicole, who had begun the degree a few years earlier and withdrew due to family responsibilities, decided to study alongside Holli once she had completed high school.

At UOW Shoalhaven, Molly Lasker will graduate with a Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in Human Geography, after an eventful study experience that included a semester in Vietnam as part of the New Colombo Plan Scholarships. During the celebrations, Molly will be joined by her grandfather, Dr Brian Cambourne, an esteemed and renowned researcher in the field of teacher education, who will take part in the academic procession.

At UOW Bega Valley, Indigenous graduate Lucinda Thurston, who completed a Bachelor of Nursing, will be joined by her family and children who are leading the academic procession in a traditional dance ceremony. Fellow nursing graduate Tanya Waites is giving the student vote of thanks and will be joined by her mother, who is travelling from Fiji for the occasion.

The ceremonies, which will be held across several Aboriginal nations, bring together traditional graduation proceedings with rich Indigenous history, acknowledging UOW’s connection to the culture and history of the areas in which its campuses are located.

The blending of ancient Indigenous practices and European traditions brings to life UOW’s vision for an inclusive, reconciled and united Australia, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are positioned as the knowledge holders of Country.