Victoria University congratulates the outstanding achievements of VU alumni and students recognised in its 2017 Alumni Awards held on 3 October.
The annual Awards acknowledge exceptional accomplishments from alumni across a range of fields, this year including graduates from the worlds of business, law, health and sport.
2017 award recipients
Distinguished Alumni Award
Andrew Gaze, AM
Bachelor of Applied Science (Physical Education)
Former professional basketballer Andrew Gaze is often described as one of Australia’s greatest ever basketballers. Now head coach of the Sydney Kings, Gaze led the senior Australian national team, the boomers to five Olympic Games, including as flag-bearer at the Sydney Olympics.
He played every season for the Melbourne Tigers for 20 years, receiving numerous awards nationally and internationally. He was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and one of the few Australians to be included in the FIBA Hall of Fame.
Away from the courts, Gaze is recognised for his leadership, ability to build a strong team culture, mentor developing athletes, and commitment and passion to excellence. He helped Victoria University pave the way for flexible study options for professional athletes, and was highly involved in the launch of VU’s Basketball Academy.
“I’m constantly referring back to the very valuable lessons I learned at Victoria University. It’s been a significant influence on me, my career, and the way I approach personal challenges.”
Outstanding Student – Future Alumni Award
Kyriacos (Keary) Karaolides
Bachelor of Business
Keary was one of the first students to be awarded a Victoria University Chancellors’ Scholarship for exceptional academic achievement at secondary school. He has consistently shown outstanding commitment to the VU community, becoming President of the VU Greek Society, and helping it grow from seven to more than 200 members over three years. He is a strong role model, especially for new students, and works with secondary school students from low socioeconomic areas to give them a positive taste of university life as the first head mentor of VU’s Early University pathways program.
Keary is also President of NUGAS, the largest Greek youth organisation in the world outside of Greece, leading a variety of networking events and volunteer work. He fundraised more than $1000 for orphanages and boxes of winter clothes for the Greek Salvation Army during Greece’s economic crisis.
Young Achiever Alumni Award
Bachelor of Laws
As Chairman of the South Sudanese Community Association of Victoria, Kot provides countless hours of advice, bringing together his knowledge as a lawyer to his community. Kot received the 2017 Law Institute of Victoria’s Rising Star Award; the 2016 Victoria Multicultural Award for Excellence Certificate of Merit; and the 2016 African Media Australia Award for Excellence in Community Leadership.
With his own experience in a Kenyan refugee camp for 12 years, Kot has first-hand knowledge of what it means to receive support for education and the importance of perseverance. He now “pays it forward”, by helping provide education to young people in juvenile detention, using social media to educate young people about topical issues and the importance of education, employment and mentoring; and introducing work placements at his employer, Slater and Gordon, for Year 11 and 12 students.
Outstanding Service Alumni Award
Dr Jade Scott
Bachelor and Master of Health Science (Osteopathy)
Dr Scott is owner and director of Western Region Health and Osteopathy, one of the largest osteopathic-focused clinics in the world. She provides the highest standards of care and respect for both patients and staff, and has a reputation for integrity, respect and generosity.
Jade has forged an extraordinary ongoing partnership with Victoria University, using her business as a platform for hands-on training, and establishing an internship program that has been running for several years. She also provides a financial bursary and scholarship program. Dr Scott has interned over 60 Victoria University graduates in her practice, and runs regular mentoring sessions for new alumni so they can be successful in their own clinics.
Outstanding Leadership Alumni Award
David Jacka OAM
Graduate Diploma of Project Management
David Jacka has received the Order of Australia and Victoria’s Pride of Australia Medal for Courage, for his belief that “limitations can be overcome when you do it differently.” Despite having a devastating motorbike accident leaving the then 19-year-old with only 6% physical function and no movement below his armpits, David became a qualified engineer and has accomplished several inspiring physical and mental feats, including adapting a small light airplane to accommodate his quadriplegia and completing a solo 38-day trip around the coast of Australia in 2013, and paddling more than 2000 kilometres down the Murray River in 2016. He was also a member of the Australian National Wheelchair rugby team at the 1996 Paralympics.
David also finds time to be a spinal cord injury Peer Support Volunteer and speak to school children about the importance of setting goals and resilience. He is also a Board Member of the Australian Quadriplegic Association, and the founder of not-for-profit organisation, On a Wing and a Chair.
Spirit of Victoria University Alumni Award
Bachelor of Screen Media
Amy is passionate about pursuing a career in media because of its capacity to effect social change and transcend cultural barriers. She received a Westpac Bicentennial Foundation scholarship in the Young Technologist category for her talent in technology and innovation in 2016, and was one of only five national winners selected by video entry to make a short film with the theme “my unique identity” for SBS in 2017. She created her film as an authentic representation of her life living with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia, to help reduce public assumptions that she is either extremely tragic or inherently inspirational.
Amy is also Secretary of VU Access Collective and volunteers at SYN media as Social Media Coordinator. She also works as a VU videographer, and helps organise student events.
View the acceptance speeches of the winners on the VU Alumni Community Facebook site.