27 September 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