16 October 2019
Master of International Development graduate Mandula Barta of Maroochydore has been recognised by USC for her considerable efforts to make the world a better place.
Mandula, 27, was awarded a Chancellor’s Medal – USC’s highest accolade for a graduating student – for her personal and professional commitment to working for various causes and creating change for good.
This includes being the co-founder and co-organiser of the Diversity Connect network for USC international students, volunteering with Amnesty International and Sunshine Coast Refugee Action Network and doing educational and community work in Cambodia after receiving a prestigious Commonwealth Government grant.
Her personal mantra and message to others is: “if you have privilege and opportunity, take the time to give back to those less fortunate and be part of creating a world that’s good for everyone”.
Mandula said she was delighted to have received the Chancellor’s Medal at her graduation ceremony on 26 September.
“It is a huge honour, but I have to say that all the work I do is team work, so without the people I am surrounded by this wouldn’t have happened,” she said.
“I am forever grateful for all the opportunities and support I was given throughout my university career and my life.”
Following a childhood spent between the bright lights of Sydney and a village in north-western Hungary, Mandula enrolled in a Bachelor of Social Work at USC in 2013.
“Studying social work taught me a lot about society, oppression and social action but most importantly it taught me about critical thinking and reflection which I use not only in my professional life, but in everyday life as well,” she said.
“The degree pushed me to think differently and created opportunities for me to explore my interests in working with children and in remote or disadvantaged communities.”
After completing her Social Work degree, Mandula spent a year in Hungary before returning to USC to start a Master of International Development.
“I want to be able to travel overseas as a community development worker and social worker and this postgraduate work has taught me about a range of ideas in the development and aid field,” she said.
While completing her Masters, Mandula was awarded a grant through the Endeavour Leadership Program to Cambodia where she worked as an educator and community worker with local non-government organisation, Grace House. The experience formed the basis of her final dissertation, which was awarded a High Distinction.
Mandula is now employed by the USC Social Work program as a Peer Support Social Worker for international students.
Social Work Program Coordinator Dr Tina Lathouras said Mandula’s commitment to work for the pursuit of social justice, human rights and education for development work is significant.
“This is exemplified by Mandula’s extensive volunteer work and peer support social worker role she’s undertaking with our Social Work program,” Dr Lathouras said.
“These efforts, coupled with her hard work for a stunning GPA of 6.25 (out of 7) for the Master of International Development, means she really deserves the acknowledgement of the Chancellor's Medal."
- Megan Woodward