As 2018 comes to an end, we wanted to take the time to acknowledge and congratulate the students and alumni who have embodied our Here For Good spirit and have made some serious waves in their community.
As the first new university in Australia in 20 years – we operate by different rules compared to traditional universities. We believe that the best type of education is one that ensures graduates are gaining real-life experience even before they graduate.
We believe in listening carefully to the people in the industry, who also happen to be our professors, and asking them: what do you want to see from the graduates of the future? What skills do you want our future graduates to have?
The following students and alumni have inspired us all to roll up our sleeves and dive into a cause worth believing in to change our communities for the better.
1. Melanie Tran, Here For Good winner
Melanie was the first Australian to win Laureate’s Here for Good prize for her inspiring work in making the world more inclusive and accessible for the one billion people in the world who live with a disability. Melanie is the first person in the world with a neuromuscular condition to receive The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Bronze, Silver and Gold Award. She is now the Lead User Experience Designer at AbilityMate, the Board Member at Leep NGO, and the UX Designer for Hireup. Not only this but Melanie was also recently selected to present this pitch at the TEDx Sydney Pitch Night at the iconic Sydney Opera House. Congrats to Melanie for her accomplishments and unwavering determinism!
“There are so many negative stories about young people developing unhealthy habits through technology and building relationships online. I’d like to emphasise how I’m using technology to transform the way young people build successful relationships safely online and how that can translate into the physical space.” – Melanie
2. Penny Robinson, Founder of I-CAN Network
Penny is one of the founders of the I CAN Network, along with Chris Varney and James Ong. The I CAN Network helps people to rethink Autism, from ‘I Can’t’ to ‘I CAN’ by mentoring young people on the Autism Spectrum to live life with an ‘I CAN’ attitude. They bring out the ‘awe’ in AWEtism through education, advocacy and providing opportunities. They also build networks across schools, universities, TAFEs, communities, businesses, and governments. Penny is also an Ambassador for Yellow Ladybugs and the ‘Twitter Queen’ of guest speaker events for Aspergers Victoria.
“I hope that other families are also supportive of their autistic family members, so they too reach their potential – whatever that may be.” – Penny
3. Danny Hui, Founder & developer of sameview
When Danny‘s youngest son Monty was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Hydrocephalus, unilateral hearing Loss, and low muscle tone – Danny and his wife were overwhelmed. They found it almost impossible to juggle all the appointments with therapists, doctors, surgeries, while trying to maintain a good family life. After studying his MBA and building a successful career within the utility industry, he created sameview with one mission in mind: to make disability care coordination easier and better. Sameview streamlines care coordination; giving families the confidence to build their own team, set their own goals, and walk their own path.
“I think it’s important to start from a place where you think about what is possible, rather than thinking about limitations.” – Danny
4. Rotana Cheng, Founder of The Remedy
Rotana Cheng is a Clinical Myotherapy graduate who has created his own company, The Remedy, to help the Cambodian community get access to better medical care and create employment. He is currently based in Phnom Penh providing continued education and opportunities for local physical health practitioners and improved access to quality care. Additionally, he is creating permanent positions for full-time therapists and trainers to provide both complementary physical health services and administer more training programs. In the long term, these programs will help to fund the development of a Sustainable Social Enterprise Clinic, designed to provide long-term employment, education and provide ongoing support & mentorship to local Khmer physical therapists.
“I was just showing the lecturer some basic techniques. It wasn’t until I looked up that I realised the whole class had stopped what they were doing to watch. I could see the enthusiasm and curiosity in their eyes and it was palpable. It was then I realised how hungry they were for this information and starting to see how badly services in physical health were needed.” – Rotana
5. Rhonda Dee, creator of The Art for Wellness Program
Rhonda creatively combined visual artistry with counseling from her studies at Jansen Newman Institute. She is now making a colourful impact in the Sydney community by fusing the worlds of art, connection, and creativity to encourage optimal mental health. The Art for Wellness Program in Bankstown is a community program geared for participants who suffer mental health issues and would like to explore meaning and creative potential through art. The group showcased their paintings, ceramic sculptures, and collages in an exhibition at Bankstown Art Centre throughout Mental Health month.
“Psychologists and neuroscientists alike have evidence that a person’s worldview becomes narrow as a result of mental illness. This program works to expand perception by increasing wonder and curiosity through playfulness. Within the relaxed, non-competitive and supportive atmosphere of the studio, each participant creates art that matters to them.” – Rhonda
6. Emma Flick, Found & Owner of Deśa Yoga Retreat
After graduating from Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS) and taking some time off to travel, Emma Flick wanted to combine her passion for hotels, yoga, health, and counseling to create a unique luxury experience unlike anything else. This is where the concept for Deśa Retreat was born. Her retreat offers busy corporates an escape into a world of relaxation and living off the land. Every single part of her retreat is sustainable with solar electricity, solar water, and double-paned glass and heavily insulated windows that are energy efficient. The heating is hydronic and the carpets are made from sisal, which is woven seagrass so it is eco and sustainable. The water in the bathrooms come from rainwater tanks on the property, which is treated with ultraviolet light as well as a high-level filtration system.
“I wanted to create a kind of refuge for people to seperate from their lives and gain some perspective. The name Deśa literally means the place within yourself you go to meditate. That’s the essence of what I wanted to create.” – Emma
7. Tyler Norton, Founder of Roots Academy
Tyler is a graduate of Diploma of Sport Development and is making his dream of managing an elite football league in Mumbai, India come true. He has already helped set-up a competitive football league called The Roots Academy located in Mumbai. The company has plans to expand and coach underprivileged children, empower young women, and support the community. Tyler is also working closely with his team to develop an all female league which has become extremely popular in the community.
“We’ve set up ‘The Roots Academy’ in Mumbai, and within 5 weeks we’ve already managed to start a competitive League with over 75 registered players. The next step is to deliver free training for underprivileged children. Following that, we will start our Girls League which promises to be huge!” – Tyler
8. Valentina Algeri, Founder of Statera Collective
Valentina is a proud Australasian College of Natural Therapies (ACNT) alumni and founder of Statera Collective, a boutique social enterprise offering values-based businesses and accessible health and wellness programs abroad. Statera Collective’s ‘Changemaker Trips’ in Cambodia and Laos provide the opportunity to participate in a week-long sustainable volunteering project, with yoga, mindfulness and wellness activities throughout the program. Volunteering projects can include Housebuilding with Volunteer Building Cambodia and Treak Community Centre, and Statera partners with like-minded NGOs who do the right thing, focus on child protection and sustainability and support the community with teaching English, daily meditation, yoga classes, and local cultural trips.
“I’m deeply passionate about giving back to global communities in ways which create opportunities for individuals to thrive without creating dependencies. That’s why I decided to start the Statera Collective – a social organization committed to improving lives.” – Valentina
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