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VU congratulates winning alumni

Pragya Kapil, Dr Adrian Stoica, Luba Griborovitch, Daniel Haile-Michael. Missing: Oliver Percovich, Danny Morseau, Carol Fox

Victoria University congratulates the outstanding achievements of VU alumni and students recognised in its 2018 Alumni Awards held on 2 October.

The annual Awards acknowledge exceptional accomplishments from alumni across a range of fields, this year including graduates from the worlds of engineering, science, business, community development, and sport.

2018 award recipients

Lifetime Achievement

Dr Adrian Stoica
Senior Research Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
PhD 1996

Recognised as a world leader and innovator in the fields of robotics, human-computer interfaces and space exploration systems, Dr Stoica’s successes have seen him called upon to advise bodies such as the USA National Science Foundation and the European Space Agency. 

A designer of the original transformer robot, Dr Stoica was part of the NASA team that first promoted the use of humanoid robots for space exploration. With a range of inventions and patents, Dr Stoica’s research also includes volunteer work that applies robotics to assist the elderly and infirm to be independent of human aid.

Professional Achievement

Oliver Percovich
Founder and Executive Director of Skateistan
Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours) 2001

Oliver’s travels – always with his skateboard – took him to Afghanistan in 2007, where he realised that skateboarding provided a way to engage young Afghans, especially girls and working children. He founded Skateistan as a grassroots project in Kabul, which is now an award-winning international program in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.

Combining skateboarding with education, Skatistan now works with more than 2,000 children a week at skate schools, half of them girls. It attracts children outside the public school system, and provides a safe learning space for children facing social exclusion, especially girls, and those with disabilities.

Meritorious Service

Daniel Haile-Michael
Project Engineer, Mount Alexander Shire
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) 2015

The Australian Human Rights Commission awarded Daniel and his friend Maki Issa with the 2014 Young People’s Human Rights Medal for challenging racism and racial profiling, culminating in a historic court case with Victoria Police that opened the door for positive change. Daniel continues to be a champion against racism, working to help disadvantaged youth reach their full potential. He has leadership roles with the Tigrian Community Association of Victoria, the Victorian Government’s Youth Arts Reference Group, and Kids off the Kerb, among others. Africa Media Australia recognised Daniel as the most inspiring African Australian in 2013. He is also a volunteer CFA firefighter.

Rising Star

Luba Grigorovitch
Victorian State Secretary, Rail, Tram and Bus Union
Bachelor of Business (Event Management) / Bachelor of Arts (Sports Administration) 2007

At just 23, Luba was elected to Hobsons Bay City Council. Five years later, she was the first woman and youngest person elected State Secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union. She successfully negotiated Victoria’s first domestic violence leave clause into Metro Trains & V/Line Enterprise Agreements in 2012, which led to several awards.

Luba was invited to represent the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) at the UN Commission for the Status of Women event in New York in 2018. Her leadership credentials continue to build, as does her commitment to shape a future of universal inclusion, respect and opportunity.

Outstanding Student – Future Alumni

Pragya Kapil
Masters of International Community Development

Pragya is a member of the VU Vollies student volunteer program, a team leader with V4U (a university-wide volunteer day), a transition mentor, and a VU student clubs and societies leader. She supports other international students to get involved in university events and extracurricular opportunities. She was recognised with a VU Student Leadership Award and nomination for Victoria’s International Student of the Year in 2017.

Pragya also volunteers at the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and with the Rotary Club. She is a passionate volunteer who has taken the elderly to Christmas lunches, refugee families on holidays, and taught new Australians to swim, all while maintaining a High Distinction average in her studies.

Spirit of VU

Danny Morseu
Teachers Aide, Wilsontin State High School Toowoomba
Bachelor of Arts (Recreation) 1985

Danny Morseu was the first Torres Strait Islander to represent Australia at the Olympic Games, and is a true legend of Australian basketball with sustained success over many years as player, coach and administrator. He is also a Basketball Hall of Fame member. 

Danny has received several awards for his passion and breadth of service to establish programs to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (ASTI). He was Director of the National Indigenous Basketball Academy, a member of the National ATSI Sports Council, and coach of the National Indigenous men’s basketball team. For more than 30 years, Danny has worked tirelessly to use basketball as a vehicle to inspire individuals and communities.

Spirit of VU

Carol Fox
Principal, executive coach, author, speaker and trainer – Carol Fox and Co
Bachelor of Applied Science (PE) 1985, Master of Arts 1988

Carol broke through gender barriers to become Victoria’s first female professional surf lifesaver. She has competed at the state level across swimming, water polo and professional lifeguarding, becoming a leading light in positive change for women in sport.

For more than 20 years, Carol has run a successful consultancy as a performance coach, speaker and trainer. She is president of Women Sport Australia and strongly involved in influencing government and sporting organisations on providing opportunities for women and girls. Her research in this area was extensively used by the Australian Sports Commission in setting current policies.

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