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[Victoria University logo]

ALUMNI AWARDS

2020

Dr Ross Coller

Executive Director, Engagement and Advancement

Ross Coller

Welcome everyone to this year's Victoria University Alumni Award Ceremony.

My name is Ross Coller, and I am the Executive Director, Engagement and Advancement at Victoria University. I will be your MC this evening for the exciting announcements of our award winners.

The Victoria University Alumni Awards celebrates the exceptional achievements from those within our alumni community, wherever they may be located across the globe.

We are incredibly proud of the contributions our alumni have made to our university, to the west of Melbourne, to our nation, and across our global stage.

Victoria University has over 250,000 alumni, and tonight will just be a small snapshot of the outstanding alum that are part of our community.

This year, we have taken a digital-first approach to the alumni awards, and this has resulted in us receiving more nominations than ever before with a truly global reach.

If you're nominated yourself or received a nomination from someone else, then please know that by telling us your story, we can share that with current students and this we know, will motivate and inspire them to great things.

Before we begin the awards section itself, I would like to introduce Gheran Steel, one of the Boonwurrung traditional owners of the land where the university is based, who will welcome us to country.

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Gheran Steel

Boonwurrung Traditional Owner

Gheran Yarraman Steel

[Boonwurrung language]

Welcome to my beautiful home, the land of the two bays.

My name is Gheran Yarraman Steel. I'm a proud descendant of the Boonwurrung people of the Kulin Nations. And it is my great responsibility here tonight to welcome you to country.

So in the words of my ancestors, what I said at the start was, come with purpose to my beautiful home, land of the two bays.

That first word, come with purpose. What does that mean?

Well, first you need to know what your purpose is and it needs to be something big. So it's got to be something bigger than yourself. t's gotta be something that gets you up in the morning when things get hard. Don't take your purpose lightly.

Secondly, you're coming onto country. So you're coming onto sovereign lands. And in order to do that, there's an implicit promise that needs to be made.

That promise goes back to our original tanderrums or welcome to countries that we used to hold between the Kulin Nations. And the story goes thusly.

The land that we meet was created by Bunjil, and Bunjil created the Kulin people. And he taught the Kulin people the circular relationship they have with the land.

Now, in order to exercise this circular relationship, they had to understand that they had responsibility for land, and they had responsibility for what other people do on their land. So they had to ask all guests to make two promises.

The first promise, not to harm the land or the children of Bunjil.

The second promise was to honour and respect the laws of Bunjil. Our [Boonwurrung word].

Now these laws are a little bit different to the laws that we have today. You could think of them more of customary laws, how we hold ourselves when we're on country, how we conduct ourselves.

So the first law that I'll talk about is what we call [Boonwurrung word] the law of knowledge or the responsibility we have for knowledge, understanding that knowledge is not just something that empowers us. It's also something that we're responsible for.

You see, we're responsible for knowledge in that we have to communicate that knowledge truthfully, but we also have to ensure the continuity of that knowledge, ensuring that knowledge is passed down generations.

The second law is what we call, the law of [Boonwurrung word] and it's really the law of community.

For the Boonwurrang people, we were one clan of five in Kulin Nation, and we understood that diversity was a powerful thing. But how we harness that diversity by identifying our common purpose amongst the different groups in the Kulin Nation is how we actually utilised that.

So understand firstly that diversity is obviously a good thing, and we should be inviting diversity into our communities. We should be inviting different ways of thinking, but the most important part is by, we have to identify what is the common purpose amongst all the different people?

Now, the last law is what we call honouring sacred ground. This is paying respects to the first people and the land and the stories that have come to pass on the lands where we live and where we work today.

I often think about my education in school and how similar it was to everyone else's education, and then my education at home. And I often think, well, isn't the rest of Australia missing out on all this? You learn the 200 years, I learn the 80,000 years.

So what it is, it's really understanding that we can all celebrate this 80,000 years of human history on the land that we meet, and that's a great thing. And in order for us to go forward and have a shared future, we all have to acknowledge the same history.

So those are the three laws, our [Boonwurrung word] and I ask that we commit ourselves to these laws so that I can say once again, in the words of my ancestors.

[Boonwurrung language]

Thank you.

Ross Coller

Thank you, Gheran, for your warm welcome. And also explain the meaning and stories behind this important part of our ceremony this evening.

This year we have people participating from all around the world. I hope you all will take the chance to reflect on the First Nations people of the country where you are based and take part and encourage age old practices of sharing knowledge, culture, and stories.

We are now very excited to announce our 2020 Victoria University Alumni Award Winners.

This year, we will be presenting the Rising Star Alumni Award, Professional Achievement Alumni Award, Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award, and the Spirit of Victoria University Alumni Award.

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4th year Victoria University student

Alice Growden

Double Degree in Laws and Commerce

Alice Growden

Hi, my name is Alice Growden, and I'm currently in my fourth year of a double degree of law and commerce (applied finance) at Victoria University.

I'm involved in different areas of the university. I coordinate and deputy chair the Students as Partners Program, and the undergraduate student representative of the academic board. I'm a VU senior ambassador, student mentor and student advisor.

I've traveled abroad during my studies to Indonesia and the UK for university related exchanges, and I'm very involved in extensive student governance, and ideally take on so many roles and commitments to make the most of my degree.

Being so involved in the university gives me such a great outlook on our students and their success.

It's so important to recognise our star alumni for their outstanding achievements after their studies.

I'm so honoured to be here to announce our chosen finalists for the Rising Star Alumni Award.

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Rising Star Alumni Award

2019

Mr Ayden Shaw

Dr Ryan Storr

2018

Mr Luba Grigorovitch

2017

Mr Kot Monoah

2016

Mr Christian Williams

2015

Mr Maxwell Gratton

2014

Mr Balendran Kandeban

Mr Samuel Manhom

2013

Ms Stacey Keating

2012

Mr Nussen Ainsworth

Ms Chelsea Hatherall

2011

Cr Sarah Carter

Ms Jacinta Torres Gomez.

Alice Growden

The Rising Star Alumni Award recognises a young VU alum who is demonstrating significant early and/or community service achievements, bringing pride to Victoria University.

This year, I'm proud to announce and congratulate our finalists who are:

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Mohamed Jamal Al-Sallal

Bilateral Affairs and Partnerships Coordinator, United Arab Emirates Mission to the United Nations

Image of Mohamed Jamal Al-Sallal.

Sameerah Arif

Blood Cancer Support Coordinator, Leukemia Foundation

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Sarah Louise Oleksiuk

Program Advisory Manager at Aurecon.

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Nathalie Mclean

Business Owner.

Junjurri Workshop and Yarning Circle Events

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Mark James Sacco

Chief Operating Officer,

Light Project

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Alice Growden

 

And finally 

Mark James Sacco, Chief Operating Officer at Light Project.

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And the winner of this year's Rising Star Alumni Award goes to Sameerah Arif.

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Mrs Sameerah Arif

Winner

Rising Star Alumni Award

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Alice Growden

After having obtained a Bachelor of Biomedical Science from Victoria University, Sameerah Arif is a Blood Cancer Support Coordinator at the Leukemia Foundation, and is a researcher for cancer treatments.

Sameerah has held many leadership roles within the community and student programs.

She has organised fundraising events and managed charities, both within Victoria and overseas. And projects to support children and provide healthcare to those in need.

Congratulations Sameerah Arif. We welcome you to say a few words, Sameerah.

Sameerah Arif

It is a great honour and privilege for me to be receiving the Victoria University 2020 Rising Star Alumni Award.

I graduated as a valedictorian from Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Victoria University.

Until now, I'm still in touch with VU. I've presented as an inspirational alumni guest speaker at the Victoria University Student Leadership Award Ceremony.

Personally, my inspiration in my life has been my grandpa, Dr Iqbal Ahmed, who was an oncologist.

And my strong interest in helping others, healthcare and oncology made me consider a career in oncology.

I am now Blood Cancer Support Coordinator at the Leukemia Foundation and a medical radiation therapist.

Today, I'm incredibly honoured to be representing women in STEM, and I've been a mentor for students in STEM who needed guidance and support.

In recognition of my professional achievements, I'm very grateful to have received various awards, including a Vice Chancellor's Award for outstanding service, leadership awards, a team initiative award, and other achievements award.

My involvement in community work and leadership began in my early years of education in primary school. Not only did I learn a lot from this experience, I also found it rewarding, as it gave me the opportunity to help others.

In the great words of John Hume, "I never thought in terms of being a leader. I thought very simply in terms of helping people."

I've held many leadership roles in the community and student programs. I've organised fundraising events and managed charity projects, both in Victoria and overseas to support children and provide healthcare to those in need.

I love volunteering, giving back to the community and making a difference.

Because of my leadership involvement and contribution to the community, I was recognised as the Pride of Brimbank by the Brimbank City Council, and had an article published about me in the local newspaper Star News. I was a subject of Pride in Brimbank, a series that Star News launched highlighting and recognising the stories of everyday heroes who take pride in the community.

The reason I'm sharing this with you today is because I personally want to inspire others to do more, learn more, and live the best versions of themselves.

With all my heart, I would like to thank my supporting pillars in my life who have always been there for me and have helped me become who I am today.

My parents, Arif and Tarannum my sister Nabeelah. My best friends, Kavita and Genevieve, my husband Rakib, and all my friends.

Another special person is Liz Mordaunt, who was a student leadership coordinator at Victoria University. She has been one of my mentors in my journey.

Finally, my advice to recent graduates is to never give up. It will be a long journey, but you'll get to your goal eventually. And always remember that success is the difference you make in people's lives.

Thank you.

Alice Growden

Thank you very much Sameerah.

It's so fantastic to see that one of our students have made their way to their success on a journey such as yours.

It's great to have that piece of advice that you gave to us at the end of it. And I think a lot of our students are very persistent in becoming just as successful as you.

It's so great to see Victoria University has really contributed to your success and the way you are now, all the best with your future endeavours, and we look forward to seeing more of your success in the future.

Sameerah Arif

Thank you.

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Vice-Chancellor &Amp; President

Professor Peter Dawkins AO

Hello, I'm Peter Dawkins, Vice-Chancellor and president of Victoria University.

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Professional Achievement Alumni Award

2019

Dr Hanatsu Nagano

2018

Mr Oliver Percovich

2017

Mr David Jacka OAM

2016

Mr Paul Booth

Peter Dawkins

Professional Achievement Alumni Award recognises an alum who is aged 36 or older, and through their achievements and conduct both make a difference in their field of endeavour and are an inspiration to others.

This year, our finalists are:

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Maria Turnbull OAM

Senior Financial Counsellor,

The Salvation Army

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Peter Dawkins

Maria Turnbull OAM, Senior Financial Counsellor with The Salvation Army.

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Vedran Drakulic Oam

Chief Executive Officer,

Gandel Philanthropy

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Peter Dawkins

Mr Vedran Drakulic OAM, Chief Executive Officer at Gandel Philanthropy.

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Deborah Borg

Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer,

Bunge

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Peter Dawkins

Mrs Deborah Borg, Chief HR and Communications Officer at Bunge.

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Januario Mok

Deputy Director,

East Timor Development Agency

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Peter Dawkins

Mr Januario Mok, Deputy Director at East Timor Development Agency.

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Greg Warnecke

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Peter Dawkins

And Mr Greg Warnecke, freelance Managing Director at Sport and Events Group.

The winner of this year's Professional Achievement Alumni Award goes to Vedran Drakulic OAM.

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Mr Vedran Drakulic OAM

Winner

Professional Achievement Alumni Award

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Peter Dawkins

Vedran has contributed significantly, both professionally and in the community to his adopted new home. After arriving in Australia as a refugee from Bosnia some 20 years ago.

Since 2011, Vedran has been the CEO of Gandel Philanthropy, one of the largest family foundations.

In that time, he helped the Gandel family distribute over $100 million to various charitable causes, including transformative gifts such as Cabrini Hospital Gandel Wing, Pauline Gandel Children's Gallery at Melbourne Museum, flagship grants including two $1 million plus grants in response to the Australian Bushfire crisis in 2019-20 and COVID-19 in 2020.

Vedran also a significant not-for-profit experience, working nearly 15 years in a broad range of roles in the humanitarian sector.

In his time with the International Red Cross, Vedran was a member of the delegation of the International Red Cross representing the International Red Cross at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Burkina Faso.

In Australia, he has spent nearly 10 years with the Australian Red Cross National Office in Melbourne. Managing all of their communications as well as international appeal.

Vedran managed the biggest ever international appeal for Australian Red Cross, the 2005 Asian Tsunami Appeal, which raised over a hundred million dollars.

Vedran has also worked with Oxfam Australia as their Communications Manager with his most notable achievement being the development and implementation of the Close the Gap media campaign, calling for targets to achieve Indigenous health equality within a generation.

Vedran was awarded the medal of the Order of Australia, OAM in the 2017 Australian Day honours.

The service to the community through a range of charitable organisations, cherishes this as his proudest moment, a refugee whose contribution to Australia has been recognised with the most worthy honour.

Congratulations, Vedran, on winning the Professional Achievement Alumni Award. Well done.

Vedran Drakulic

Thank you very much, Peter. It's wonderful news.

Thanks very much to Victoria University for this honour. I feel it's a real privilege, and as I said, an honour to receive this award from my university.

Both personally and professionally, this award means a lot to me because through my studies at Victoria University, for my masters degree, it opened up a lot of doors for me in Australia and enabled me to achieve a lot of things that I have achieved in my life.

I came to Australia as a refugee and I was really literally given a second chance to start a new life. And it is a debt of gratitude that I always feel I have to repay. And I try to do that in my personal and professional life on an ongoing basis.

Being part of the Victorian University alum, I feel that it's a great privilege to be in the western suburbs and supporting the community here.

I would like to congratulate all the other finalists and I would like to thank the selection panel and everybody else at Victoria University for this honour, which I would wear with pride.

Peter Dawkins

Well, thanks very much, Vedran, and all the very best for your future and your continuing contribution to society, which is very impressive. Well done.

Vedran Drakulic

Thank you very much, Peter. And thanks to Victoria University, once again.

Peter Dawkins

When you graduate from VU, you become a lifelong member of our growing alumni community alongside over 250,000 other graduates around the world.

Among many things, being part of our alumni enables you to build your personal and professional networks as well as being an ambassador for Victoria University.

Alumni are involved in our university in many ways, including being mentors to students, providing students with real time industry experiences through our work integrated learning program and helping us ensure that our teaching programs are relevant to industry and employability through participating in course advisory panels.

These are wonderful demonstrations of past students giving to current VU students and helping them to make their mark and make a difference to the world.

It's with great pride that we hear about how our alumni are making a difference in their areas of expertise, innovate and being forces for social change. And we celebrate the success through these awards, and in turn, we remain connected with each other through them.

Being a part of the VU community is a terrific way to build professional connections and expand your networks.

Being recognised for an award for your achievements in your professional life demonstrates a continued capacity to set goals and to achieve them, as well as go the extra mile.

These qualities have enabled you to establish in your career and they're qualities that will assist you to continue to build on your career and continue on your professional path.

This award also recognises your achievements in making a difference and inspiring others in your professional path, is a beacon to what's possible through learning and connection.

VU is incredibly proud of the caliber of the finalists and congratulates you for making a real impact in your profession and on other individuals that you've made a difference to.

I encourage you to celebrate this achievement and also continue to seize your opportunities and to continue to inspire others and to continue to achieve your goals.

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2019 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Dr Collette Burke

CEO, Exner Group

Collette Burke

Hello, my name is Collette Burke. I've been associated with Victoria University since studying my Bachelor of Engineering, which I completed in 1992.

Victoria University was my choice of place to study due to the friendly nature of the lecturers and also the practical aspects of our course, which I've taken right throughout my career.

In recent years, I've also been lucky to be involved with Victoria University further in my role as Inaugural Chief Engineer and also through the two consulting engineering businesses I own in both Australia and UAE.

I was delighted in 2019 to receive the Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award. And I feel very honoured and privileged to be amongst such great caliber of people, such as business leaders, world class athletes, philanthropists, musicians, politicians, scientists, engineers, and global change makers.

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Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award

2019

Dr Collette Burke

2018

Dr Adrian Stoica

2017

Mr Andrew Gaze AM

2016

Tan Sri Dr Jeffery Cheah AO

2015

Dr John Lasich

2014

Dr Deidre Anderson

2013

Mr Paul Constantiou

2012

Mr Kevin Qiang Li

2011

The Honourable Kim Wells MP

Collette Burke

As you know, the Victoria University Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award recognises alumni who have built outstanding and impeccable reputation on their all around contribution to the profession and careers and also the community, bringing pride to Victoria University through their embodiment of the Victoria University spirit.

The finalist for 2020 for the Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award are:

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Leslie Collins

Business Owner,

Les Collins Racing

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Collette Burke

Leslie Collins, owner of Les Collins Racing

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JOHN STANWAY

Chief Executive Officer,

Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne

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Collette Burke

and John Stanway, CEO of the Royal Children's Hospital.

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And the winner of this year's Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award goes to John Stanway.

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Mr John Stanway

WINNER

Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award

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Collette Burke

John was appointed as CEO of the Royal Children's Hospital, one of the world's leading hospitals in 2017.

Prior to that, he was the COO of the Royal Children's Hospital for more than 10 years.

Amongst his other achievements, he was able to increase efficiency in the hospital and increase the quality of patient care through his leadership.

John has a major in economics and also a graduate diploma in industrial relations. Through Victoria University's predecessor, Footscray Institute of Technology.

Congratulations, John Stanway for winning the 2020 Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, well done.

John Stanway

Thank you, Collette. That was very unexpected, I have to say, and a great honour.

And look it's made me reflect back nearly 40 years when I completed my graduate diploma in industrial relations at Victoria University, as it's now called. I finished that in 1983, and I just really made me reflect on both leadership.

As you may know, I'm the Chief Executive for Royal Children's Hospital and it is a great honour to really have that leadership position within the hospital itself, is well regarded by the community and supported by the community, and had a good recognition both in Australia and around the world.

And of course, my beginning back nearly 40 years ago, I had no concept or even a motivation to be a CEO of a large public hospital.

But the graduate diploma that I did really helped me because I think given the resources then, and it turns out it's been a fantastic background in managing people to, in our case, deliver great care everywhere and also creating a very safe and respectful place for the staff.

So you know I go back when I think back so many years David Walland, I believe, was the lead of that course then and I was working with General Motors, believe it or not. And so I've had a mixed career in different industries, but it turns out every industry basically have people, and when you have people, you need to lead and motivate them. And that's what the graduate diploma in industrial relations at Victoria University helped me do.

And of course during the pandemic, COVID-19, it's been a real challenge. And of course, keeping patients and families safe and staff safe has been paramount.

So it's a great honour and thank you very much.

Collette Burke

Thank you, John, for accepting this award and inspiring the future generation of Victorian University students, continuing to make exceptional contributions for VU alumni across the globe.

Congratulations.

John Stanway

Thanks, Collette, thank you.

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Master of Ceremonies

Dr Ross Coller

Executive Director, Engagement & Advancement

Peter Dawkins

This year, we wanted to give the wider VU community, our staff, current students, friends, and supporters an opportunity to have their say in this award, with online voting determining the winner.

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Spirit of VU Alumni Award

2019

Mr Mark Riley

2018

Ms Carol Fox

2017

Ms Amy Marks

Peter Dawkins

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the achievements of our finalists and voted for their Spirit of VU Award winner.

They're all deserving and to be celebrated, but there can be only one winner.

And so now it is my absolute pleasure to hand over to the winner of the Spirit of VU Award for 2020 so they can make their remarks.

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Mr Januario Mok

WINNER

Spirit of VU Alumni Award

Januario Mok

Hi, my name is Januario Mok. I work at East Timor Development Agency, a Timor East non-profit organisation dedicated to developing the skills of Timor East people, especially the unemployed and vulnerable in our community to be able to find jobs and support themselves.

Images of Januario presenting the ETDA building, working in the community and classrooms, consulting with others.

Januario Mok

I have been with ETDA for 20 years and I'm in charge with designing training programs in areas that are needed to help build Timor-Leste's vocational education base. And I work towards the economy, sustainability in areas such as tourism.

I am also responsible for establishment of and maintaining a partnership with the government and other non-government agency in order to keep all ETDA in development.

Particularly delighted to be recognised by Victoria University, an institution that is held in high regard by all Timorese.

VU enjoys as a strong partnership Timor-Leste.

In 2013, I received a scholarship and completed the graduates of vocational education training at Victoria University.

This course allowed me to apply competency-based training to our situation at home.

This moment I would like to thank you, my teacher, Dr Jayne Pitard at Victoria University for nominating me for this award.

This award would also not have been possible without the unfailing support and belief in my abilities from my ETDA director, Ms Palmira Pires and all of my colleagues at ETDA and all of the students.

Images of EDTA building, ETDA group members at training, Januario educating, other group images, food and pottery being created.

In ETDA, I have found an organisation I believe in strongly, a place where I can put the skills I gain over the years, and from VU into helping to transform people's lives and make them part of the solution to developing our nation into a healthy and prosperous country.

At ETDA, I found my calling as an educator who tries always to work hard and ensure that no one is left behind in our extraordinary nation.

I'm so proud being the Victoria University 2020 Award Alumni winner.

Peter Dawkins

Congratulations to all of our 2020 award winners. You are truly an inspiration to our community.

I'd also like to congratulate all of our other nominees for their exceptional work and say thank you to the nominators who put in the time to write a nomination.

During these challenging times, it is more important than ever to come together as a community and support those around us.

Thank you to everyone at home for watching and celebrating these extraordinary alumni with us.

We will leave you with an insight into why our alumni are so proud to be VU.

Take care.

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Mohamed Jamal Al-Sallal

Bachelor of Business (International Trade & Marketing), 2012

Mohamed Jamal Al-Sallal

Victoria University is a very diverse school.

I’ve studied with students from North America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and of course Australia and New Zealand.

I'm proud to be a VU alum because it taught me to work effectively with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

It also taught me to develop fruitful working relationships with colleagues and supervisors at the United Nations System.

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Thi Tuyet Hanh Nguyen

Master of TESOL, 2013

Thi Tuyet Hanh Nguyen

My name's Thi Tuyet Hanh Nguyen. I'm from Vietnam.

I'm proud to be a VU alum because I graduated from TESOL master in 2013.

During the study, I learned with many teaching mentors, teaching skill for listening, speaking, reading and writing.

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Maria Turnbull

Bachelor of Laws 2015

Maria Turnbull

Hi, I'm Maria Turnbull and I'm proud to be a Victoria University alum because Victoria University's provided me with the capacity to speak with knowledge and credibility and exceptional education.

I feel I'm able to represent Victoria University with authority and credibility, and that I've gained good support structures from the university, the teachers and others.

I've also been able to advocate well for those in the community who are vulnerable.

Thank you for this opportunity.

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Nathalie Mclean

Bachelor of Creative Arts Industries

Nathalie Mclean

Hi, I'm Nathalie McLean.

I'm proud to be a VU alum because Victoria University is dedicated to their students and helping us achieve our dreams and goals.

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Januario Mok

Grad Cert in VET 2013

Januario Mok

I'm proud to be VU alumni because it gave me the skills to change the way vocational education delivered in Timor-Leste.

In 2017, I created the ETDA Employment Readiness Pool with the objective of preparing Timor East youth ready for work in the tourism industry.

Thank you very much Victoria University.

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[Victoria University logo]

ALUMNI AWARDS

2020

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