Two Coffs Harbour students were the joint winners of the Southern Cross University Contribution to Campus Community award, presented at the annual UniLife Awards, held at the Lismore campus.
The UniLife Awards recognise the outstanding achievement and contribution by Southern Cross University students in the areas of sporting and student life and are endorsed by the Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker, who attended for the first time this month since beginning his role at the University in September.
Two students collected the SCU Contribution to Campus Community award for their role in developing the previous Coffs Harbour campus Unibar space into a vibrant usable student area.
Coffs Harbour Student Association (CHSA) president Fiona Shaw and treasurer Corinne Ininahazwe have spent most of 2015 and 2016 transforming the UniBar space into the new UniLounge, with an overwhelmingly positive response from Coffs Harbour students since it opened in Session 2 this year.
“Last year the space was only being used by about 10 students a week, but now we are getting between 300 and 400 students using it each day,” Fiona, a third-year arts and primary education student, said.
“We have plans to renovate the kitchen even further, as we use it every week to host free food events for students which have been a hit with students and really created a sense of community. It has also been used as a collaborative space for study groups or a quiet study space with eight computer workstations.
“I was shocked and a bit teary to get the award as we were up against so many great people. Corinne and I have just worked really well as a team with her bringing the ideas and me helping her make it happen, and we overcame a lot of obstacles to get there in the end.”
Treasurer Corinne, a third-year education student, said the award meant so much because it recognised the hours of hard work through many hurdles to create a meaningful space for students.
“We wanted to see something amazing happen to Coffs Harbour and we really had to liaise with and work alongside the University, TAFE and all other stakeholders to be able to do it,” Corinne said.
“We had to fight so hard for it, but the social benefits have created such a sense of community.”
Director of SCU Engagement Ben Roche, who presented the award, said the students were most deserving of the accolade, which emphasises the value of student-led initiatives to create vibrant places, relevant services and ultimately more safe and enjoyable environments for study, work and play.
“As a result of Fiona and Corinne’s initiative, our students at the Coffs Harbour campus have activated an underutilised area into a vibrant student space to support greater student collaboration, connectivity and study,” Mr Roche said.
“These Awards are a timely reminder of the transformative power of education that is at the heart of the Southern Cross University experience.”
UniLife Award winners
The Sports Team of the Year was awarded to The Men’s 3 x 3 Basketball Team; James Whitby from the Gold Coast and Tim Jeffery, Tim Rice, Brodie Calvert from Lismore for their commitment to university sport and level of excellence, namely representing Australia at the World University League Finals in China last year, after their qualifying win at the Australian University Sport 3 x3 basketball competition on the Gold Coast.
The SCU Environmental Champion was awarded toPhD candidate Maia Osborn. At a campus level in Lismore, Maia taught an environmental education elective for pre-service teachers and received a teaching commendation for the unit, while nationally she is conducting research to better prepare primary school teachers to enact place-based community focused environmental education.
Third-year Lismore media student and cinematographer Steve Kwan took out the Excellence in the Arts Award for his involvement as director of photography on the Arts Northern Rivers “If These Halls Could Talk” project, a multi-arts project of national significance, funded by Arts NSW Regional Partnerships.
Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours Lismore student Annie Long, the independent curator of the Murwillumbah Art Trail, explored the idea of staging an outdoor sculptural exhibition by developing a potential grant application. She used this application for a successful Country Arts Support Program grant application to use the existing galleries, studios, and public art spaces, as well as pop up exhibitions in empty shops in Murwillumbah, winning her the SCU Community-Engaged student award.
The Uni Mentor of the Year was presented to fourth-year Bachelor of Speech Pathology with Honours student Danielle Roan, who mentored two students in the Bachelor of Speech Pathology degree at the Gold Coast campus, meeting with them in the early stages of Session 1 to make them feel welcome and accepted at the outset of their university life, providing an overview of where to go to get assistance and kept in regular email contact to assist the mentees to become self-sufficient and well-connected in the Southern Cross University community.
SCU Elite Athlete Program surfer and Gold Coast education student Mitchell James received Sportsman of the Year for competing as part of the World Qualifying series and winning his fourth Australian University Men’s Short Board title on Sunshine Coast, gaining selection in the Australian University Sports Green and Gold merit Team, an honour he has achieved four times while representing the University at the Championships.
Bachelor of Laws and Human Movement Science student Shelley Watts made history when she became the first female boxer to win a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal. In 2016 she won the right to be an Olympian in making the final 16 in the women’s light 57-60 kg division for the Rio Games. Shelly also assisted the UniLife Sports Office as a social sport convenor for soccer and acted as an assistant University team manager at the 2009 Northern Uni Games, and this month took out the UniLife Sportswoman of the Year award.
The SCU Student Leadership accolade was awarded to second-year Master of International Tourism and Hotel Management student Diego Gomez Marcos for his role as treasurer of the CoastRs Student Association on the Gold Coast, a Study Gold Coast Ambassador, a Mayor’s International Student Ambassador, and a delegate to the Council of International Students Australia National Conference in Darwin in July this year.
The Sports Full Blue award recognises a student’s outstanding sporting achievements and for enhancing the reputation of university sport, and was bestowed upon boxer Shelley Watts and baseballer Tammy McMillan, a Gold Coast Bachelor of Arts and Education student who represented Australia in the Emeralds team this year at the Women’s Baseball World Cup in South Korea and was selected as part of the World All-Star team for her outstanding individual performance. Southern Cross University Sport and Recreation Officer David Graham said being awarded a University Blue was “one of the highest accolades a university athlete can receive”.