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newsbites 2020

USC staff and students with Food Bank truck
(L to R): Samuel Chee and Emily Wall (Student Guild), Alex Sharp (Student Wellbeing), Tracey Coobula (Study Sunshine Coast), and a Food Bank representative.
Students affected by COVID-19 receive emergency support

While COVID-19 changed many things this year, one area that remained unchanged at USC was the focus on students and their wellbeing. During the peak of the impact, many were doing it tough and for some the financial pressure affected their ability to meet basic needs, let alone continue with their studies. USC Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) Professor Denise Wood AM said many of the recipients had lost part-time work due to COVID-19 restrictions and were finding it hard to pay for food and rent.

“In response to this situation, we increased the number of emergency bursaries available to provide immediate financial support to approved students,” she said.

USC provided more than 1,360 students with bursaries of up to $1,000 each, totalling almost $1.1 million. The Student Emergency Bursary Appeal was also well received by USC staff, alumni, local businesses and individuals, with 180 supporters donating over $54,000.

During June and July, over 6,000 free, ready-made meals were also distributed to students in need. USC’s Student Wellbeing, Student Senate and Student Guild partnered with Study Sunshine Coast, Study Brisbane, OZ harvest, Food Bank and Food Share to provide this food relief.

The logistics to store, transport, and distribute the meals to students at each campus, reaching a peak of 1,000 meals a week, were considerable. Students were also provided with fresh vegetables and other groceries. The program continued throughout 2020 supporting students in financial distress.

CIDSEL program participants
CIDSEL: Developing local and global communities for the future

USC’s Centre for International Development, Social Entrepreneurship, and Leadership (CIDSEL) is a development agency committed to making a social impact through human capacity development. CIDSEL works globally on development challenges and builds capacity in local communities. CIDSEL aims to be a positive influence in the change we want to see in the world and together build a better and inclusive society. The centre is looking to engage with people from different disciplines, communities and with different insights to exchange knowledge, experiences, and ideas on how to accelerate development. If you would like to be part of CIDSEL’s knowledge hub and learn more about what they do, visit

Stock image of Coronavirus vaccine
Coronavirus vaccine trials underway at USC

COVID-19 vaccine research, which previously was only conducted in Australia’s major cities, is now being run by the USC Clinical Trials Centre on the Sunshine Coast and in Moreton Bay at the Sippy Downs and Health Hub Morayfield clinics. Principal investigators Associate Professor Sue Thackwray and Professor Scott Kitchener are overseeing the “healthy volunteers” clinical trial, which aims to identify the optimal dose and safety of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by US-based Novavax, Inc. “We are excited to be participating in worldwide research to find a vaccine against COVID-19, which is a serious and life-threatening disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Dr Thackwray said. USC Clinical Trials Director Lucas Litewka said the vaccine research forms an integral part of the centre’s goal of bringing advanced treatments and breakthrough therapies to the region. For information about participating in a clinical trial go to

Michael Jefferies
USC law graduate named national Rising Star

When COVID-19 restrictions closed the overseas study door on Sydney lawyer Michael Jefferies earlier this year, another two doors opened for the 2019 USC Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce (Financial Planning) graduate. One was work for corporate and commercial law firm Hamilton Locke in Sydney, specialising in his preferred legal fields of Mergers and Acquisitions, Private Equity, and Capital Markets, and the other was to top another category in the Australian Law Awards — his third such win in a row. The USC Chancellor’s Medallist was named Rising Star of the Year out of 10 finalists at the 2020 Australian Law Awards, presented by Lawyers Weekly. Michael said he was honoured to receive the national award, which recognises “the outstanding performance of lawyers who have excelled in their first few years of legal practice, with exceptional potential to fast-track their rise through their legal careers,” he said.

Subway train carriage in New York
Lilli scoops design job at the Museum of Ice Cream

USC 2018 Design and Communication graduate Lilli Collingwood has sunk her teeth into a delectable new career in New York City at the Museum of Ice Cream. The three-month internship led to a full-time job, and Lilli is now the company’s lead graphic designer in its marketing team, residing in Brooklyn. “I have a lot of creative freedom to test out new ideas. I've worked on campaign designs, newsletters, marketing activations and even designed a bright pink ice cream truck in Times Square,” she said. And there were unexpected sprinkles on top for Lilli when one of her inspirational GIF stickers was reposted on Instagram by American celebrity Kim Kardashian. The Museum, which started several years ago as a pop-up business, has bases in New York and San Francisco. It aims to create interactive environments and sensory experiences “inspiring human connection through the universal power of ice cream," its website states.

Students in study alcove at USC Moreton Bay
USC earns five-star ratings in Good Universities Guide

USC has continued to score five-star ratings in key areas of student satisfaction in the 2021 edition of the Good Universities Guide. The Guide uses nationwide student and graduate surveys and national higher education data, to award five-star ratings to only the top 20 percent of Australian universities in each category. USC received awards across six categories — teaching quality (for the 15th consecutive year), overall experience (ninth consecutive year), learning resources (fifth consecutive year), skills development, social equity, and first generation. USC's Bachelor of Urban Design and Town Planning (Honours) also earned Australia’s top result in the Architecture and Building field of study for overall experience, teaching quality and skills development and the highest results in Queensland in the field of Agriculture and Environmental Studies for overall experience, teaching quality, learner engagement, learning resources, skills development and starting salary.

Sarah Hayes, Meagan Kellert and Emma Hayes
Graduate twins cater to nutrition needs of Lightning

Sarah (above, left) and Emma Hayes (above, far right), identical twin sisters who graduated from USC in 2016 with Nutrition and Dietetics degrees, are celebrating the growing success of their business, Deliciously Clean Eats, which catered for the Sunshine Coast Lightning players during the Super Netball season this year. They started the business with entrepreneur and recipe book author Meagan Kellert (above, centre) after the trio chatted at a gym about their desire to promote healthy eating for people of all ages and fitness levels. The business now includes a dietitian-led, pre-packaged meals service covering the Sunshine Coast and northern Brisbane, a café at Kawana Sports Hub, and corporate catering contracts. “There is so much that goes on that no-one sees — rostering, ordering packaging and linen, meetings, transporting food, licensing and checking food standards,” said Emma. “It’s a hard slog but passion is the key to creating the dream.”

Jonty Bush
Jonty secures a seat in Queensland State Parliament

USC business graduate and 2009 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, Jonty Bush, was successfully elected to the Queensland State Parliament at the October state election as the Labor candidate for the seat of Cooper in Brisbane. For the past decade, following the homicides of her father and 19-year-old sister, Jonty has advocated for the rights of victims of violent crime. In 2009 she was recognised nationally as Young Australian of the Year, developing Queensland’s One Punch Can Kill campaign. She became CEO of a state-wide victim support group, has worked on Ministerial taskforces, was appointed to Queensland’s inaugural Sentencing Advisory Council and has a Masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice. “I’m extremely grateful and humbled to have the community’s support. There’s so much I want to do — I can’t wait to get started,” said Jonty.

Indigenous and Transcultural Research Centre - Maria Raciti (centre), Catherine Manathunga (left) and Jennifer Carter
New research centre to harness strengths across cultures

USC has launched the Indigenous and Transcultural Research Centre to foster a sharing of ideas across scientific disciplines and cultures in Australia and around the world, including First Nations peoples, migrants, refugees and culturally diverse communities. The team is led by three directors, Professor of Marketing Maria Raciti (centre), Professor of Education Research Catherine Manathunga (left) and Professor of Geography Jennifer Carter (right), all from USC. Key themes of the centre include knowledge systems, creative cultural practices and community capacity exchange. “For example, we have a new project around Indigenous foods and their potential in sustainable tourism, and we plan to draw on Indigenous approaches to doctoral education which includes the agency of country and the power of story and the ways that knowledge is developed across generations and cultures,” Professor Manathunga said. The Indigenous and Transcultural Research Centre also offers opportunities for Higher Degree by Research students, early and mid-career researchers, research fellows and collaborating partners. For more information, visit

Stock image of job search on computer and phone
USC provides free toolkit for job seekers

With COVID-19 lockdowns severely disrupting the Australian job market, the USC Business School has developed an online Employability Toolkit to help upskill people who are currently out of work, considering changing careers, interested in professional development or are about to enter the job market for the first time. Dean and Head of the USC Business School Professor Lorelle Frazer said the toolkit featured video interviews and included four modules that focussed on building and maintaining a personal brand, creating a personal website, using social media for job hunting, and developing job application materials and skills. “People may complete one or more of the online modules, depending on their interests, with those who complete all four to receive a certificate of completion,” she said. The toolkit is available online at