There are double celebrations at our Central Coast Campus this week as almost 500 students graduate from their programs and UON marks 25 years in the region.

Central Coast celebrates graduation and milestone

02 July 2014

There are double celebrations at the University of Newcastle's Central Coast Campus this week as almost 500 students graduate from their programs and UON marks 25 years of partnership in the region.

On Thursday 3 July and Friday 4 July, the achievements of students will be recognised during five graduation ceremonies at the multi-sector campus.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said the graduands' new qualifications stood them in good stead for their future careers.

"The University and Hunter TAFE provide world-class training and education in a dynamic, flexible and student-focused learning environment. This year, we celebrate 25 years of partnership, where we have worked with business, industry and the community to offer contemporary studies and work-ready graduates," Professor McMillen said.

"We are delighted to celebrate with our students as they reach the important milestone of graduation and we wish them every success for the future."

Of the 497 students graduating, 439 have completed University of Newcastle programs, while 58 have completed TAFE qualifications.

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GRADUATION HIGHLIGHTS

Thursday 3 July –  Open Foundation paving the way for university entry 40 years on

2014 marks a significant milestone for the University of Newcastle's English Language and Foundation Studies Centre, which is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Open Foundation program.

In its inaugural year in 1974, Open Foundation was undertaken by just 80 commencing students. Since its inception, about 35,000 people have enrolled in the program, which provides students with a qualification to gain entry to university and develop the skills to succeed at a tertiary level.

Sharon Smith completed her studies through Open Foundation in 2013, and will graduate on Thursday. The 34-year-old mother of three is now enrolled in a double degree with the University of Newcastle, an achievement that would not have been possible without the enabling program.

"I had originally applied for university and was unsuccessful, which was quite disappointing," Sharon said.

"Without Open Foundation I wouldn't have been able to undertake my Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) and Bachelor of Arts degrees. The learning and support provided through the course was invaluable."   

The enabling program has a proven track record, with many graduates having gone on to successful careers as lawyers, nurses, journalists and scientists, while others are now counted among the University of Newcastle's academic and professional colleagues.

Thursday 3 July – Former graphic designer pursues true passion

Ben Wiggins is one of 36 success stories who will graduate with a Bachelor of Teaching Primary/Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies from the University of Newcastle's Central Coast campus.

A former graphic designer, in 2010 Ben Wiggins chose to pursue his true passion for teaching. The dedicated 28-year-old was a recipient of one of the University's inaugural Work Integrated Learning scholarships, and upon completion of his degree was targeted by the NSW Government's Department of Education for a full-time teaching position.

"The University of Newcastle degree gave me everything I needed to follow my passion and drive my career," Ben said.

"I just didn't feel working as a graphic designer was my thing. I took a chance, and fell in love with studying and learning about education. 

"The balance of theory and practical application throughout the course prepared me fully for heading out into the workforce."

Ben is now employed at Harbord Public School on Sydney's northern beaches.

Ben Wiggins will graduate at the University of Newcastle's Faculty of Education and Arts ceremony at the Central Coast campus at 2pm on Thursday 3 July. 

Friday 4 July –  Much-loved nursing student honoured with posthumous award

Of all her students, University of Newcastle School of Nursing and Midwifery lecturer, Carol Norton, admits Benson Omorefe was her favourite.

Described as kind, intelligent and extremely passionate, the Nigerian student was immensely popular amongst both students, and staff.

"He was such an intelligent student, who had an incredible vision of his professional future as a Registered Nurse," Ms Norton said.

Sadly after lengthy health complications, including a double lung transplant, Benson passed away while completing his final six-week clinical placement.

"In my nine years at the University, I have never met a student quite like Benson. He was an absolute pleasure to teach – the perfect student."

On Friday 4 July, Benson will be posthumously awarded a Bachelor of Nursing. His brother, Thompson Omorefe, will be on hand to accept the award. Benson Omorefe will be awarded a posthumous Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Newcastle Faculty of Health and Medicine graduation ceremony at the Central Coast campus on Friday 4 July at 10am.

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