There were smiles, tears and mortarboards in the air this month, as over 600 new La Trobe alumni celebrated at our regional graduation ceremonies.
In Victoria’s north, more than 80 graduands from our Albury-Wodonga campus accepted their testamurs at The Cube in Wodonga. A week later, hundreds more crossed the stage at our Bendigo campus, during a three-day event in the state’s centre.
Our latest regional alumni have been through so much during the pandemic, and we’re proud of them for persevering with their studies. Take a moment to share in their achievements through this snapshot of stories.
Inaugural Master of Internet of Things alumni
You may have heard of La Trobe’s Master of Internet of Things (IoT), an Australian-first course delivered from our Bendigo campus. Now, you can meet our very first IoT alumni!
Having honed their advanced programming and systemic design skills, many of the group are already employed by local tech companies. Among them is Chippy Mathew, one of two women who studied in our first IoT cohort.
‘When I came to Bendigo, it felt similar to my hometown. People are very friendly, they have time to get to know each other,’ she says.
While studying during a pandemic certainly brought its challenges, Chippy says it also showed her the potential of combining software, electronics and IT to save lives.
Through the course, she and her IoT peers built their own electronic hardware parts and developed software to gather information in real time, through things like sensors. Chippy is keen to use the technology in ICUs and ambulances to record patients’ vital signs, so data can feed directly to doctors to speed up response times and save lives.
‘It’s especially needed in this pandemic, as everyone needs care at the same time,’ she says.
Nursing alumni graduate on International Nurses Day
As the world celebrated International Nurses Day on 12 May, our nursing and midwifery alumni were lucky enough to mark the occasion in Bendigo with their own graduation.
Among them were the Tupper sisters, Aish and Kealy, who were joined by fellow Bachelor of Nursing grads Billy Robertson and Abbey McCarthy.
‘I just loved my degree,’ says Aish, ‘It was somewhat difficult during COVID, but that’s where I really relied on my sister, and my partner Billy. We’d sit around the kitchen table, helping each other out with assignments and brainstorming ideas.’
Aish’s sister Kealy found her way into nursing after years working as a beauty therapist.
‘It can come as a bit of a shock when you’re on your own practising nursing for the first time, so it’s nice to share stories and experiences with each other, and to provide support,’ Kealy says.
All four of the group have secured employment with Bendigo Health, a learning and research partner of La Trobe. Kealy will start on the surgical ward, with Aish in rehabilitation, Billy in orthopaedics, and Abbey on the respiratory ward.
Diana receives the Nancy Millis Medal
Each year, La Trobe awards the Nancy Millis Medal to PhD candidates who deliver a thesis of exceptional merit. The award is named after Professor Nancy Millis, who served as Chancellor of La Trobe University from 1992–2006.
This year, Dr Diana Nabbumba (PhD in Nursing, 2022) received the medal for her research investigating the social care system for older people in rural Uganda.
‘I am grateful to God and all my support system for this wonderful achievement,’ Diana says, in her Facebook post.
After receiving a scholarship to support her studies, Diana relocated with her young family to Bendigo to complete her research degree under the guidance of Dr Rachel Winterton at our La Trobe's John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research. She's since made a home for herself among the welcoming community of Bendigo.
If you’re curious about where a research degree can take you, check out the opportunities available in your field at La Trobe.
Elly Mae enjoys the perks of studying, living and working locally
Nursing alumna Elly Mae Witte took a TAFE pathway to La Trobe. After eight years at home raising her three children, she was ready to tackle study.
‘I thought I'd do my diploma first. I thought I'd struggle my way through, but I actually had a really good time doing it, and thought I might as well do my degree too. So I just kept going,’ she says in an interview with the Border Mail.
Elly Mae is passionate about giving back to her community as a nurse. She’s secured a graduate role at Wangaratta’s Northeast Health, where she’ll complete rotations across a wide variety of teams.
Her choice to stay in her regional community will help address the shortage of nurses in regional Victoria. As healthcare demands continue to surge during the pandemic, Elly Mae's new career has never been more valuable.
Tindi's mum travels from Kenya to celebrate her PhD
Pandemic distance dissolved when Bendigo graduate Dr Tindi (Christine) Kithu accepted her PhD in Psychology. Her mother Faith travelled all the way from Kenya to share in this huge achievement!
'I never thought this day would come', says Tindi.
'I spent four years on my PhD. I am so excited, and it was great to have my family in the front row. I made it through with the support of good friends, God, family and my supervisors. The culture at La Trobe is so wonderful and the people are great.’
Her advice to anyone considering further study, or even the challenge of a Doctorate, is to relax and keep the end in sight.
‘Just take it easy – everything has an end.’
- Bendigo alumni throw their mortarboards in the air
- Chippy Mathews (centre) with fellow Master of Internet of Things alumni
- Nursing alumni Billy Robertson, Kealy Tupper, Aish Tupper and Abbey McCarthy with their testamurs on International Nurses Day
- Dr Diana Nabbumba, winner of La Trobe’s 2022 Nancy Millis Medal, and her family, with Dr Rachel Winterton and Professor Irene Blackberry from La Trobe’s John Richards Centre for Ageing Research
- Elly Mae Witte and her husband, Joel Witte
- Christine (Tindi) Kithu and her mum, Faith