Shepparton graduates embark on dream careers

The Goulburn Murray region has gained new skilled and professional workers as the class of 2023 donned robes and celebrated their achievements at La Trobe University’s Shepparton graduation ceremony.

The University celebrated the conferral of 78 graduates and one degree by higher research, on May 31 at the Riverlinks Eastbank, marking the end of La Trobe’s 2024 regional campus graduations.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor, Professor Theo Farrell, said graduation was a wonderful time to reflect on how hard students have worked and how far they’ve come.

“As we bid farewell to our graduates and see their transition into the world, we take pride in celebrating their successes and achievements,” Professor Farrell said.

“Having an impact is at the very heart of our University's mission – and when we reflect on the profound impact that La Trobe's Shepparton campus has within the community, it’s hard not to feel inspired.”

This year, the University is celebrating 30 years of La Trobe in Shepparton. La Trobe began teaching in 1994 with an initial intake of 40 Commonwealth supported students. Driven by local business demand, the Greater Shepparton community has continually supported and advocated for the University’s presence.

Shepparton Head of Campus, Elizabeth Capp, said Friday’s celebration has been a moment of immense joy for the entire La Trobe community.

“We extend a warm welcome to the families and friends and thank them for the support and encouragement they’ve shown to our graduating students throughout their time at University,” Elizabeth said.

“The campus is so pleased to congratulate one of the largest cohorts of Indigenous graduates to date, with six students celebrating their achievements today.

“We know that the majority of graduates will stay in regional communities to live and work, and we are particularly proud to support students from diverse nationalities and cultures to study locally and contribute to thriving regional centres like Shepparton.”

Born in rural Zimbabwe, Dr Yangama Jokwiro trained as a nurse before moving to Australia in 2004 to continue work and study. In 2018, Dr Jokwiro helped create an app to allow nurses to connect and upskill in Zimbabwe, which has grown to other southern African countries, including Botswana and Uganda.

Dr Jokwiro’s thesis explored stress conscience among nurses caring for older people with delirium, following his own experiences working within the emergency department.

“I wish to extend my studies to develop interventions that can assist nurses during their training to understand the complexities and realities of the working environment alongside their desires to provide patient-centred care,” Dr Jokwiro said.

Reflecting La Trobe’s strengths in health innovation, about 75 per cent of graduates in Shepparton received qualifications across nursing, rural health, social work and human services.

Like many Shepparton graduates, Dr Jokwiro juggled study with full-time working commitments. Upon completion of his PhD in 2023, Dr Jokwiro is now Head of Rural Health Sciences at La Trobe.

“I was working full-time as the Coordinator of Nursing at the Shepparton campus during my studies so there were many long hours. Coronavirus also extended my PhD; therefore, I was unable to collect data in hospitals for two years,” Dr Jokwiro said.

“However, my experience at La Trobe has been very, very good and I’ve received great support within the Rural Health School.”

At a crucial time of skills shortages, La Trobe’s focus on the pathways to university has created opportunities for more people to upskill.

Hope Baumann has graduated with a Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Education and was chosen as the ceremony’s graduate speaker for academic excellence throughout her degree.

“As a mature aged student my working background was in childcare, so I chose to study education to upskill my qualifications,” Hope said.

Since completing her degree, Hope has commenced a part-time primary teaching position in the Greater Shepparton region.

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