Meet La Trobe’s tenacious class of 2021

Get to know some of La Trobe’s most determined new alumni, who celebrated their success at our Bendigo and Bundoora campus graduations last month.

Each of the 8,000 graduands in La Trobe University’s Class of 2021 has a unique story of resilience. Their hard work throughout another challenging pandemic year deserves to be celebrated. And while we can’t share everyone's journey, we’re thrilled to showcase a small selection here.

Congratulations to all our newest alumni – we’re extremely proud of you!

Paralympics star Ahmed adds a new accolade to his shining medal collection

Ahmed Kelly was one of 12 La Trobe elite athletes who swapped their usual sporting apparel for academic gowns and mortarboards in December. Ahmed graduated with a Bachelor of Arts off the back of a silver medal win in the Men’s SM3 150m Individual Medley final in this year’s Tokyo Paralympics.

Before he was a Paralympian, Kelly was living in an orphanage with his brother in Baghdad, Iraq. Aged seven, Kelly and his brother were adopted by humanitarian worker Moira Kelly, who brought them to Australia in the hope of providing them with a better life.

Ahmed joined the La Trobe Elite Athlete Program in 2013. The program supports the unique needs of over 120 elite athletes studying at university, to make sure they achieve both sporting and academic success.

Read Ahmed’s story to relive his thrilling win in the pool at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics.

Hannah looks to London, thanks to a prestigious scholarship

For several years in early secondary school, Hannah Gandy disengaged from education. Today, she’s joined the Class of 2021 with a Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Arts and is determined to support other disadvantaged young people through advocacy, policy change and better legal help.

‘My early experiences were a huge challenge for me. I disengaged from education for a number of years in early secondary school, before becoming the first student at the Pavilion School to complete my VCE,’ Hannah says.

The Pavilion School is a Victorian state secondary school for students who’ve dropped out of or been excluded from the mainstream school system. The unique school was co-founded by La Trobe alumna Josie Howie (Bachelor of Arts, 1995; Bachelor of Social Work, 2000) with the aim of educating students with difficult behaviours and life circumstances.

In her final year at the Pavilion School, Hannah studied two university subjects through La Trobe’s challenging Achieve Plus pathway program. Her exceptional academic achievements earned her early enrolment at La Trobe through the University’s Aspire program.

While at La Trobe, she joined our La Trobe Elite Athlete Program, represented Australia in the World Roller Games in women’s freestyle slalom skating, and was awarded an Order of Australia Association Foundation Scholarship in 2019.

Fast forward to 2021, and Hannah has received a prestigious John Monash Scholarship, giving her the chance to pursue a Master of Laws at University College London in 2022. She plans to dedicate her career to advocating for young people and providing access to high quality legal support, representation and guidance.

‘I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at La Trobe. The opportunities that have been afforded to me have opened so many doors for my future career. I’ve been championed and supported, and I leave with many fond memories, feeling equipped and ready to tackle my next chapter of study in England.’

Read Hannah’s story to be inspired by the power of education to change lives.

Former child soldier Galou becomes sought-after accountant

When Galou Mabior (Bachelor of Business (Accounting), 2021) was 11 years old, government and rebel fighting erupted in his village in Sudan. Having become separated from his parents and four siblings, he joined the estimated 20,000 Sudanese boys left to fend for themselves.

“We were given the name The Lost Boys. We were kids without our parents,” he says.

Now, he's a graduate accountant and father with a deep love for the Bendigo community. He’s grateful for the La Trobe lecturers who helped him get to where he is today.

“I can’t forget them. They made me who I am today and without their commitment I couldn’t have done it,” he says. “I’m so happy to start a new life.”

Read Galou’s story to discover his remarkable journey from Sudan to Bendigo.

Image: Galou Mabior and his partner Anok Kudum

Keep It Cleaner co-founder Laura graduates on her birthday

Keep It Cleaner co-founder and fitness entrepreneur Laura Henshaw graduated with a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Business from La Trobe.

Laura studied her double degree over nine years, completing essays, exams and presentations while building a successful health and fitness business with her best friend. Keep It Cleaner’s app connects a 47,000+ member community with a fitness program, wellness hub, run tracker, daily meal plans, recipes, playlists and more.

Reflecting on her time at La Trobe, Laura expressed her pride and gratitude for everything she’d learned and everyone she’d met along the way.

'I proved so much to myself through the nine years completing my degree,' she says.

‘Being able to learn and grow is something I value so much and brings me so much fulfilment and I am so thankful for my time at La Trobe. Such a special way to spend my birthday.'

Head over to Instagram to watch Laura’s irresistible mortarboard toss.

Image: Laura Henshaw celebrates graduation with her husband Dalton Henshaw. Image by @laura.henshaw, shared with permission.

18 future rural doctors take their next bold step

Before the pandemic, La Trobe established a partnership with the University of Melbourne to help solve Victoria’s rural doctor shortage. Now, 18 La Trobe graduates are a step closer to realising their dream of becoming rural doctors, having completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Medical) at our Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga campuses.

Among them are rural graduates Isabella Trevaskis and Gabriella Hill.

Isabella, who grew up in Murchison, is excited to give back to her home town through a medical career.

'I can’t wait to be more hands-on in the future and to share my skills within the rural community that I grew up in,’ she says.

Gabriella, a Shepparton local, hopes her rural medical career will help improve access to the healthcare and support all people deserve.

'I hope my speciality will allow me to provide care to those who are disadvantaged and would otherwise not be able to seek the help they need,' she says.

Read more to learn what it’s like to be part of Victoria’s first end-to-end rural medical program.

Image: The Hon. David Gillespie, Oscar McGraw, Professor Jane Gunn, Isabella Trevaskis, Gabriella Hill, Professor John Dewar and The Hon. Damian Drum.

Keen to meet more of La Trobe's latest graduates? Connect with our alumni community on LinkedIn.