6 May 2014
As the only University of the Sunshine Coast undergraduate to score a perfect grade point average when he officially received his degree, Gerard Collins was one in 948.
To fellow graduate Lauren Homewood, he’s one in a million.
The two Biomedical Science graduates are still celebrating, after walking down the aisle in March at their Buderim wedding and walking across the stage at the USC Graduation ceremony in April.
Both have very bright futures, with Gerard awarded a University Medal (GPA of 7 out of 7) and Lauren awarded a Faculty Medal (GPA of 6.76 out of 7).
Brought together by a love of Year 11 chemistry at Nambour Christian College, they are proof of the value of a good study partnership.
Gerard, 23, said they were both prepared to put in the hard yards and were thrilled with their USC academic excellence awards.
“We probably wouldn’t have done as well if we studied by ourselves,” he said. “We didn’t have much of a life otherwise and there was definitely a bit of competition.”
Lauren agreed they pushed each other to succeed. “We both tried really, really hard,” said the Zimbabwean-born 22-year-old.
“It would have been easier if we’d just aimed to pass, but we’ve both always aimed really high. It was so annoying when he just beat me!”
Completing high school in 2009, with Lauren topping Year 12 Business, both were accepted into universities in Brisbane but instead took a gap year.
By 2011, they had enrolled at USC to launch careers in science and health, stay close to family and minimise part-time work.
Lauren said: “It was a really good decision. We lived at home, saved heaps of money and focused on our grades.”
Gerard is now working at Auscare Pharmacy Yandina and Sunshine Coast Compounding. He ultimately intends to pursue a medical career as a surgeon.
“At the pharmacy I’m doing compounding, which involves mixing up different medications for people,” he said.
“It’s really good because I’m using the skills I learnt at USC. This is all lab work and I worked in the lab throughout my degree. I liked the pharmacology side of Biomedical Science and it definitely helped me get this job.”
Lauren is working as a receptionist for an optometrist and deciding whether to do further study towards medicine or another health profession.
“I was interested in cardiac sciences because I have a heart murmur and when I used to go for scans I would see all the equipment and want to understand it all,” she said.
“The highlight of my USC degree was our 10-week placement in the cardiac investigations unit at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. It was absolutely amazing.”
They said senior USC lecturers Dr Mark Holmes and Dr Fraser Russell were integral to their study success.
Gerard was one of 10 University Medallists at the April graduation ceremonies. The other nine were: Leah Eynon, Jason Hall, Matthew Kubler, Laura Luttrell, Wayne Marriott, Shayna McDowell, Peter Moore, Cathy O’Shannessy and Keith Roche.
— Julie Schomberg