Medallist committed to climate change adaptation - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Medallist committed to climate change adaptation

9 Apr 2019

Making the world a better place through environmental education – combined with an impressive academic record – has earned Mudjimba’s Renee Currenti USC’s highest honour for a graduating student.

Renee will be awarded the Chancellor’s Medal when she graduates from a two-year Master of Arts (Geography) on Thursday 11 April 2019 at noon.

The graduation ceremony is one of 12 ceremonies to be held from Wednesday to Friday this week for more than 1,800 USC students.

Renee, 24, who is currently working with the Sunshine Coast Council’s Community Catchment Partnerships team, said she was genuinely surprised to be acknowledged as a Chancellor’s Medallist.

“I worked with Reed Graduation Services at the last couple of graduation ceremonies and heard the speeches of some of the past Medallists and was inspired by the commitments they had made to their academic pursuit, and the USC and wider communities,” Renee said.

“It is nice to be formally recognised for the hard work I have put into my studies and extra-curricular activities over the years. It means a lot to me and my family who have supported me to achieve my goals.”

Graduating from Coolum State High School in 2011, Renee completed a double degree in a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science at USC before taking on a research masters degree based on research in Fiji.

“I enrolled in USC’s Masters of Arts program in 2016 which allowed me the autonomy to focus on my topic of interest – climate change adaptation,” Ms Currenti said.

“My USC journey exposed me to a world of complex issues and problems that need solving and I was lucky to work on a globally important project to complete my Masters.

“People in Nawairuku in Fiji are noticing more intense extreme weather conditions, namely cyclones and floods. They are noticing the timing of seasons change over time, and the blending of wet and dry seasons which impacts their agricultural productivity.

“The changes that are being seen in Naiwairuku village are not happening in isolation. Changes that are being seen in many places, mostly inhabited by Indigenous people, are already affecting the lives and livelihoods of billions of people around the world.”

During her six years as a USC student, Renee was a field and research assistant for various local and overseas research projects, mentored new students, and represented the University at environmental and sustainability conferences.

She also volunteered significant amounts of her own time to the Sunshine Coast community, as well as communities in rural Fiji and rural Cambodia.

“What drives me to spend time helping others is knowing how lucky we are in Australia to have so many opportunities at our fingertips,” Renee said.

“I learned from a young age that not everyone is as fortunate as we are, and I find it easy to spend time giving to others knowing that I am in the position to do so.

“The time I have spent in Fiji with people who have very few material possessions but so much love and happiness reminded me to be grateful for, and humble about what we have.”

- Megan Woodward

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