Social justice campaigner earns Chancellor’s Medal - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Social justice campaigner earns Chancellor’s Medal

27 Sep 2017

Nine years might seem like a long time to complete a combined degree in Arts and Science, but mother-of-three and social justice campaigner Sam Willcocks would not have had it any other way.

Sam, 28, of Booloumba Creek will this week receive a Chancellor’s Medal for having achieved exceptional academic results at USC while also leading a range of sustainability, community and international development projects.

As well as having had three babies since enrolling at USC in mid-2008, the high-achieving student completed majors in Sustainability, Sustainable Society and Sociology.

She complemented her studies by doing voluntary education work in Kenya, helping introduce a recycling system at USC, attending a summer scholarship Astrophysics program, and working with local Indigenous welfare groups.

USC’s new Chancellor Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC, will present Sam with the Chancellor’s Medal – the University’s highest honour for a graduating student – during her graduation ceremony at 3pm on Thursday 28 September.

“I’m absolutely elated to be graduating with the USC Chancellor’s Medal,” Sam said. “I’m the first in my family to attend university, and am ecstatic to have made them so proud.

“I started out at USC simply because I had a real thirst for learning. At the time, I had no idea where I’d end up, but I’ve ended up developing a huge passion for sustainability and social justice.

“Having a young family has really highlighted to me the importance of looking after the environment for the next generation.”

The former Mountain Creek State High School student is now working for Community Classrooms on education projects in Kenya, as well as running cultural engagement programs on the Sunshine Coast with The Wiruungga Organisation.

Sam achieved a near-perfect grade point average of 6.73 out of a possible 7, a result she puts down to hard work, perseverance and the support she received from her family and teachers.

“USC has made huge efforts to support me so I could keep studying and achieving highly – for instance, I was able to sit exams with a newborn baby,” she said.

“Graduation day for me will be a culmination of many years and thousands of hours of work, and I can’t wait to see the smiles on the faces of my parents, my children and my wonderful teachers.”

Gen Kennedy

Related articles

Top honour for graduate who ignored advice she shouldn’t go to uni
12 Apr

Told she wasn’t “university material” in high school, Belgium-born Liesbeth Borburgh never anticipated more than a decade later she would receive the highest academic honour for a graduating student from a university on the other side of the world.

Graduating dad opts to sit with kids – to watch mum cross the stage instead
10 Apr

Only one of them will cross the stage at a University of the Sunshine Coast graduation ceremony this week but husband and wife graduating students Clayton and Lisa James wouldn’t have it any other way

Medallist defies the odds on inspiring academic journey
5 May

University of the Sunshine Coast’s Chancellor’s Medallist Kristy Benson has proven she likes to defy expectations, even her own.


Name Position Email Phone
Janelle Kirkland Media Manager (Acting) +61 7 5459 4553
Clare McKay Media Relations Coordinator +61 7 5456 5669

Search results for Recent news