Each year the Outstanding Alumni Awards program honours, acknowledges and celebrates our graduates who have achieved significantly in their field of expertise since graduating, at least two years prior with their first degree, recognising them for the impact they have had at a local, national and sometimes international level.
Thank you to those who nominated a UniSC graduate for the 2023 Outstanding Alumni Awards and for highlighting their achievements to the University since leaving UniSC.
Congratulations to the following shortlisted nominees listed in alphabetical order.
Award recipients will be announced later in the year.
Public relations graduate Bronte Cresswell is an experienced and awarded Sunshine Coast marketing professional. After successfully building marketing agency Dash of Milk, she sold this business in 2022 to pursue her second business, Dash Academy, training business owners in effective social media marketing. Bronte was named the Sunshine Coast Business Women's Network ‘2022 Young Business Woman of the Year’, and continues to build her influence and impact as a founder and executive member of the Young Chamber of Commerce. Named in the 30 under 30 of the Sunshine Coast, she regularly features on podcasts, articles, radio and continues to support UniSC as a regular guest lecturer.
Education/Arts graduate Kathryn (Kate) Deighton is an inclusion teacher and transition co-ordinator at Emerald State High School in regional Queensland, who coaches and referees successful Rugby, Rugby League, and Touch Football school and club sporting teams throughout the Central Highlands. In 2023, Kate refereed in the 47th Battalion football carnival and coached the Open girls rugby team to victory at the Western 7s tournament. Kate is also Secretary of the Central Highlands Referee Association for Rugby League. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the sporting community, Kate was awarded Senior Sportsperson/Administrator of the Year by the Central Highlands Regional Council in the 2023 Australia Day Awards.
B Eng (Civ)(Hons) 2017
Civil Engineering graduate James Ghent is a dedicated Sustainability and Climate Change Engineer. He passionately explores innovative ways to harness nature's potential in response to climate change. Currently, he's enhancing resilience in Peru's Andean communities, blending indigenous wisdom with education to reduce vulnerability during recurring El Niño events. A global sustainability leader, James is lauded for creative solutions, from measuring and mitigating carbon emissions to understanding sea-level rise impacts and using natural disasters for positive outcomes. As a lecturer and STEM ambassador, he eagerly imparts knowledge to future generations, believing they hold the key to our future.
Journalism graduate Nicole Hegarty commenced her professional journey as a regional reporter for the ABC, which has led to her current role as a federal political reporter for the broadcaster based in Canberra. In that role she has interviewed the Prime Minister, senior ministers and foreign leaders and reported for ABC's AM current affairs program, Radio National and News Breakfast. Nicole informs the public on matters of national significance and brings a unique regional perspective. She works with people from diverse backgrounds to put their experiences on the national agenda. Nicole is an active participant in professional organisations which offer development opportunities. She also participates in mentoring and volunteers with community groups.
BCrtve(Hons) 2021, BCreativeWriting 2020
Shannon Horsfall is undertaking her PhD in Creative Writing at UniSC after completing Honours with a GPA of 7 and receiving the University Medal for her Bachelor Degree. She is the award-winning author-illustrator of 'Was Not Me' and 'Nomax' (both HarperCollins), which was a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable in 2017. She is also the illustrator of 'Dear Santa' (Scholastic), 'My Unicorn Farts Glitter' (Hachette) and 'Once I Munched a Mango' (State Library of Queensland). She has published short stories, poetry and flash fiction in anthologies and literary journals including Swamp Literary Journal. Shannon teaches Creative Writing at UniSC, mentors up and coming writers and academics and contributes regularly to writer's festivals and workshops.
Social Science/Psychology graduate Lana Jeffs is a dedicated postgraduate student and regional coordinator for the MindSET-do STEM enrichment program working with schools, educators and students spanning the Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Fraser Coast and Moreton Bay regions. She is committed to fostering lifelong learning, particularly in the fields of STEM, and inspiring future generations. Lana developed the growth of MindSET-do, a primary school presenter team creating opportunities to develop confidence through experience. In 2023 Lana coordinated a regional tour delivering professional development sessions for University education students and teachers across south-east Queensland.
Dr Jane Larkin
DCA 2023, MComn 2016, GDEd(Secondary) 2014, BA 2012
Four-time UniSC graduate Dr Jane Larkin is an Australian athlete, actress, filmmaker, and educator, achieving prominence through her participation in the 2018 Commonwealth Games Nomination Trials during her doctoral studies. Noteworthy film roles include "Thirteen Lives" directed by Ron Howard and Netflix’s “Spiderhead” alongside Chris Hemsworth. She portrays Penny in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of Trent Dalton's "Boy Swallows Universe" and recently completed her first feature film "The Edge,", writing, directing, producing, and acting in the project, which highlights elite female athletes and advocates for underrepresented communities, including Paralympians and First Nations Australians. Jane also teaches at secondary schools and universities.
Having worked extensively with alumina industry waste, when China weaponised the supply of critical minerals, Executive MBA graduate Cherrell Picton and her partner established Alumtek Minerals. They have successfully developed a process to solve the alumina industry's major environmental and financial risk - extracting critical minerals and products of value from bauxite residue. Cherrell has also volunteered extensively with the DFAT funded Australian Volunteer Program, using her business skills to assist NGOs in Indonesia, Vietnam & PNG to become more sustainable. Locally, she’s been a volunteer business mentor with Innovation Generation and the Migrant Work Ready Program.
Design graduate and University Medallist Murray Richards is a passionate advocate for sustainable design practices and reducing Australia's reliance on plastic. A former international hockey player and Olympic coach, Murray has turned his attention in recent years to the issue of plastic pollution. He is currently pursuing his PhD, researching the use of critical design to disrupt the connection between single-use plastic packaging and fresh produce. Murray's zero-waste coffee cup innovation, SaverSleeve™, was a recent finalist in the Queensland Government 'Beyond Cups Innovation Challenge' aimed at eliminating single-use coffee cups and lids.
Dr Sam Van Holsbeeck
Dr Sam Van Holsbeeck is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the UniSC Forest Research Institute and has accumulated over two million dollars of applied research funding since completing his PhD at UniSC. He has made significant research contributions in the areas of forest biomass utilisation, multi-disciplinary bushfire research through citizen science, and forest pest and disease management, delivering high-impact outcomes for the Australian forest industry. In 2022, Sam’s efforts were recognised by the industry when he received the Australian Forest Products Association Blue Sky Young Researcher Innovation Award.
BIntStud 2021, BSc 2019
Two-time graduate and Chancellor's Medallist, Raymart Walker is a Policy Officer at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra. He has contributed to a range of policy interests, including advancing Australia’s climate diplomacy agenda, shaping Australian policy responses to the Myanmar coup, advocating on human rights issues, and embedding First Nations interests in Australia’s international trade and investment agenda. As part of a team, Raymart was recognised with a 2023 Secretary’s Excellence Award–Outstanding Service in Exceptional Circumstances. Raymart has also served as Second Secretary in Tonga on a short-term mission.
Please note: the nominees' work details are current at the time of receiving their nomination.