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Judy Jakeman's role ranged from first port of call at the front counter to executive support of the Vice-Chancellor and dignitaries. Judy saw the campus grow from top to bottom and inside out.

“When Sole Paez came into the Maroochydore office wanting to be enrolled, I remember excitedly telling the Vice-Chancellor, ‘We’ve got a student!’” said Ms Jakeman.

“It was an extraordinary experience to be so closely associated with the birth of a new university, from those early days of organising things you take for granted in institutions – furniture, computers, phones, even a post box. The first graduation ceremony (1999) was a highlight, when a procession of gowned academics from all over Australia and overseas helped us celebrate our achievement.”

When Ms Jakeman retired in 2006 she told the Sunshine Coast Daily: “It’s like the Sunshine Coast has grown up as a region, now that it has a university to call its own. Even the kangaroos just adapted with us.” Awed by the size of the campus 10 years later, she still enjoys visiting to volunteer at the USC Gallery.

USC’s first enrolled student was Sole Paez, a 40-year-old mother of two from Chile who graduated in 1999, “an emotional moment” that culminated in her Bachelor of Business (Marketing).

"I shall always remain grateful for building up the courage to walk up those steps on that sunny afternoon, the 14th of April 1995, to ask for an enrolment form," she said. “Professor Thomas became my strongest motivator and that moment reshaped the rest of my existence.”

She was one of the 61 percent of students in the 1996 cohort who were not school leavers (a statistic that grew to 66 percent by 2015).

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