Big Melbourne graduation ceremonies celebrate hard work, resilience

21 April 2023

Bubbling with pride, relief and excitement for the future, CQUniversity graduates have celebrated their achievements at the latest Melbourne Graduation, across two big ceremonies on Thursday 20 April 2023.

Nearly 250 graduates crossed the stage at the Melbourne Convention Centre, cheered on by family, friends, colleagues and CQUniversity supporters.

Most of the graduates had completed their studies across the past three years, facing all the challenges that the pandemic, prolonged lockdowns, and remote learning created; but the event highlighted CQUniversity Melbourne’s return to full operations, and the resilience of students, staff and academics.

For the first ceremony, CQUniversity Jawun Research Centre member Dr Tina McDonald led the official party into the event, carrying the Indigenous-themed ceremonial mace.

Guest speaker and founder of equity and inclusion initiative Future Forte (previously Future Female) Dr Belle Lim paid tribute to graduates’ determination and resilience.

And providing the Graduate Response, Master of Business Administration (Leadership) and Master of Educational Neuroscience graduate Peter Butko embodied those attributes.

“It takes courage to face yet another change while we've finished this chapter, and we now move on to the next,” the business founder said.

“And that means more change and more questions to help us define who we are. We are role models who show our friends, families, and peers what's possible. We are leaders who lead by example. We're change agents who have invested in ourselves, challenged our limitations, expanded our view of the world, and embraced a growth mindset to ask "what if".

“In short, we are CQUniversity graduates, and nothing can change that.”

For the second Graduate Response, Master of Public Health graduate Luisa Gonzalez Amezquita shared her journey, moving from Colombia to Melbourne to study.

“I knew only three English words: hello, thank you, bathroom,” she said.

“But as part of the 80 per cent of CQUniversity Melbourne students who are international students, we faced our challenges together.”

Another former international student, Maryam Omar, was the second guest speaker.

The CQU Engineering alumnus is also a leading cricketer, and the former captain of the Kuwaiti International Cricket team.

Describing the challenges of balancing study and sport, she reminded all graduates to prioritise the things that mean the most to them.

“Courage is all anybody needs to follow your dreams,” she said.

Attending his first CQU Melbourne graduation, new CQUniversity Chancellor and human rights advocate Graeme Innes AM presented testamurs to graduates and charged them with important work in their careers.

“Become an advocate for those who are disempowered, as well as an advocate for yourself,” Mr Innes said.

The ceremony also saw four doctorates awarded, to Dr Ritangi Narang, Dr Md Abul Kalam Azad, Dr Pawel Cholewa, Dr Maria Teresa McDade and Dr Priscilla Stevens-Guiney.

Award-winning Bachelor of Theatre alumnus Laura Garrick sang the Australian Anthem for both ceremonies, and performed a moving musical number.

In graduating, the former students joined a 130,000-strong community of CQUniversity alumni across the globe.