The University of Newcastle, Australia

Students to celebrate degree achievement

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The University of Newcastle’s (UON) proud history of education and research excellence is celebrated this week as more than 5,400 students mark a significant achievement in their lives – graduation.


A total of 5,429 students, including 132 Research Higher Degree (RHD), and 912 enabling program recipients will participate in the April graduation ceremonies at Callaghan campus.

Among the cohort will be 118 Indigenous graduates, including six Joint Medical Program (JMP) graduates and three RHD graduates.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Indigenous Education and Research, Professor Steven Larkin, said UON was a proud supporter of Indigenous education and research, with the largest number of Indigenous students of any Australian university.

“UON has experienced steady growth in Indigenous enrolments in recent years and has been a leader in supporting Australian Indigenous students to successfully complete degrees in the fields of health, science, business and education.

“In particular, UON’s Joint Medical Program has pioneered a pathway for Indigenous students into medicine. The University of Newcastle is proud to have graduated almost half the country’s Indigenous doctors.”

During the April ceremonies, six Indigenous JMP students will join the medical ranks, including Erika Chapman-Burgess, one of Australia’s only set of Indigenous quintuplets.

Along with her proud parents Ian and Adele, Erika will be flanked by her quintuplet siblings - Jack, Louis, India and Georgia, to celebrate becoming the first doctor in her family and the first indigenous doctor from her hometown of Glen Innes.

“As a national leader in Indigenous education it is important the University of Newcastle continues to strengthen the pipeline for Indigenous students like Erika to carry out their journey from high school to university,” Professor Larkin said.

“We are also thrilled to be awarding degrees to three Indigenous Higher Degree Research (HDR) candidates. It is inspiring to see another cohort of our Indigenous students and researchers excel and be set on a path for future success.”

The Federal Department of Education and Training (DET) has recently released figures on the number of HDR completions by Indigenous students. The most recent figures show that in 2014 there were no HDR completions by Indigenous students. However, in 2015, all seven completions by Indigenous students were UON candidates.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said graduation ceremonies provided a wonderful opportunity for all students to reflect on the immense efforts and commitment they had dedicated to their studies.

“Completing a degree is a significant milestone and is an achievement that will stay with you throughout your life and career.

“Graduation ceremonies are a proud occasion for our University, and I am delighted to be able to celebrate the remarkable successes of our students, along with their family and friends. It is a privilege to be able to congratulate our graduands during these special events, and to wish them well as they embark on their careers.

“We hope that their time at UON has instilled them with a life-long passion for learning and discovery, and gives them confidence to be great entrepreneurs, innovators and socially-oriented leaders in their chosen careers.”

Students from the university’s five faculties and postgraduate students will robe up for ceremonies over five days: Thursday 20 April, Friday 21 April, Saturday 22 April, Thursday 27 April and Friday 28 April, at the Callaghan campus.

Graduation ceremonies

Thursday 20 April

10am: Faculty of Health and Medicine

Occasional speaker: Dr David Hughes

Graduate speaker: Raymond Van Koersveld

2pm: Faculty of Health and Medicine

Occasional speaker: Dr Catherine Crock AM

Graduate speaker: Olivia Pain - B Medicine with Distinction and University Medal recipient

Indigenous medical graduate and quintuplet Erika Chapman-Burgess will graduate at this ceremony. Read her story.

6pm: Faculty of Health and Medicine - Nursing

Occasional speaker: Professor Alison Kitson

Graduate speaker: Theressa Lavender - B Midwifery (Honours with Honours Class I) and University Medal recipient

Friday 21 April

10am: Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment

Occasional speaker: Ms Lizzie Brown

Graduate speaker: Mr Alexander Gregg B Engineer (Mechanical) (Honours with Honours Class I)

2pm: Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Faculty of Education and Arts (Theology)

Occasional speaker: Professor Vijay Varadharajan

Graduate speaker: Michael Wasson B Eng (Hons) (Telecommunication) with Honours Class 1/B Science with Distinction

6pm: Faculty of Education and Arts

Occasional speaker: Ms Kay Schubach

Graduate speaker: Andrew Styan B Fine Art (Honours) with Honours Class I and University Medal recipient)

Identical twins Emily and Hannah Jordan will each graduate with Bachelor of Communications with distinction at this ceremony. 

Saturday 22 April

10am: Faculty of Education and Arts

Occasional speaker: Ms Jan Owen AM

Graduate speaker: Justine Groizard B Soc Sc (Honours with Honours Class I)

2pm: Faculty of Education and Arts - Teaching

Occasional speaker: Mr Jihad Dib

Graduate speaker: Jennifer Herbertson B Teaching (Primary)/B Early Childhood with Distinction

Thursday 27 April

6pm: Faculty of Science, English Language and Foundations Studies Centre - Enabling programs

Occasional speaker: Professor Nalini Joshi

Graduate speakers: Bryce Adamson (Yapug), May Fussell (Open Foundation), Laura Patterson (Newstep)

Friday 28 April

10am: Faculty of Business and Law

Occasional speaker: Ms Donna Rygate

Graduate speaker: Joshua Vallender B Commerce with Distinction

2pm: Faculty of Business and Law

Occasional speaker: Mr John Brogden

Graduate speaker: Briana Henderson B Business with Distinction/B Commerce with Distinction)

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