The University of Newcastle’s April/May graduation ceremonies will continue this week with ceremonies to be held on Friday 6 May and Saturday 7 May.
A record 4,469 students will graduate across 11 ceremonies at the University’s Callaghan campus over two weeks. The first eight ceremonies were held last week.
Information regarding this week’s ceremonies and graduation highlights follows.
► Making a difference one click at time
Suseema Rupasinghe loves tinkering with computers but the desire to help people is what fires his professional passion.
Through his studies in information technology Mr Rupasinghe has seen how the industry can make a significant difference in the community.
“In my second year I was involved in designing a request management system for Hunter disability service, The Mai-Wel Group. During this process we had the chance to meet the clients who use the computer program, which was very rewarding,” Mr Rupasinghe said.
Through another group project, Mr Rupasinghe assisted with the production of a documentary about a Sudanese basketball team in Newcastle to raise its profile. This documentary helped the team gain much needed funding.
“Many people think IT is all about fixing computers but it is so much more than that. Using our skills to help small organisations to do something great was a major highlight of my study and something I want to do in my professional career.”
Mr Rupasinghe will graduate on Friday 6 May at 10am with a Bachelor of Information Technology.
►Engineering an industry change
Kim van Netten is working at the coal face to explore possible ways to help shape the future of mining in Australia.
After completing her studies in Chemical Engineering last year, Ms van Netten has opted to kick off her career by starting a research higher degree. Her PhD focuses on a new technique for coal washing.
“My aim is to see if the proposed technique can reduce the amount of coal wasted in the cleaning process and possibly produce a better quality product,” she said.
Engineering was once a male dominated domain but according to Ms van Netten this environment is changing.
“There are definitely more females in chemical engineering than the other engineering disciplines. There were almost as many females, as males in chemical engineering when I went through, which is great. I think chemical engineering is attracting more attention because a lot of really exciting things are happening in this field of research,” she said.
Kim van Netten will graduate on Saturday 7 May at 10am.
►Deadly Professor shares inspiring story
Peter O’Mara combines his successful career as a general practitioner on the NSW Mid-North coast with his role as Associate Professor of Indigenous Medical Education and Head of the Discipline of Indigenous Health at the University of Newcastle.
The former Cessnock High School student left secondary education in Year 10 to become an apprentice fitter and machinist working in coal mines in the Hunter Valley. An accident prompted a change in career direction and he began his tertiary studies through the University of Newcastle Open Foundation Program.
He began a Bachelor of Arts with aspirations to become a clinical psychologist and was then inspired to pursue a career in medicine. Appointed to his current role in 2007, Associate Professor O’Mara works closely with the Wollotuka Indigenous Support Unit and plays a pivotal role mentoring the doctors of tomorrow to improve the health of Indigenous Australians.
Associate Professor O’Mara is a proud Wiradjuri man, from central New South Wales and in 2010 received a community Deadly Award for Achievement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. The ‘Deadlys’ celebrate Indigenous achievement in entertainment, music, sport and community.
Associate Professor O’Mara is the occasional speaker at the Faculty of English Language and Foundation Studies Centre on Saturday 7 May at 2pm.
►Friday 6 May
10am: Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Occasional Speaker: Mr Carl Solomon. Mr Solomon is the Director of Tourism and Partnerships for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife. Across his diverse career he has also worked for the United Nations and was the Executive Director of Olympic Aid which raised funds and implemented programs for children living in disadvantage.
2pm: Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Occasional Speaker: Dr Richard Sheldrake. Dr Richard Sheldrake is the Director-General of the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services, a role integral to driving investment and promoting economic development throughout the state. During his extensive public service career, Dr Sheldrake has influenced policy, driven economic development at a national level and served on a range of national advisory groups.
►Saturday 7 May
10am: Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment
Occasional Speaker: Peter Brecht. Mr Peter Brecht is one of Australia’s leading civil engineers and during a career spanning more than 30 years has project managed and overseen construction of some of Australia’s biggest road building and construction projects, including the Sydney Opera House and the Anzac Bridge. Mr Brecht holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) from the University of Newcastle and is currently the Managing Director of Lend Lease’s infrastructure business.
2pm: Faculty of English Language and Foundation Studies Centre
Occasional Speaker: Associate Peter O’Mara. Associate Professor Peter O’Mara is a general practitioner on the NSW Mid-North coast in addition to his position as Associate Professor of Indigenous Medical Education and Head of Discipline – Indigenous Health at the University of Newcastle. He began his career began as an apprentice fitter and machinist working in Hunter Valley coal mines but an accident prompted his career change and he began his tertiary studies through the Open Foundation program.
For interviews with any of the occasional speakers or graduates please contact Carmen Swadling in Media and Public Relations on 02 4985 4276 or 0428 038 477.