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New graduate to share inspiring journey

1 Oct 2019

A Hervey Bay woman who once believed university was not an option for her has been named USC’s Outstanding Graduate Teacher and will be awarded for academic excellence at a graduation ceremony in Hervey Bay on Thursday (3 October).

“I knew I had great potential in me, but I just had to find what I loved to unlock it,” said Amie Pennisi, who recently completed her first term as a Year 1 teacher at Xavier Catholic College after 13 years working for a major supermarket chain.

“As soon as I started my first teaching placement I knew straight away I had found that something,” said Amie, who was offered a position with Brisbane Catholic Education in her final semester at USC’s Fraser Coast campus.

“My first term as teacher has been absolutely amazing, and I still pinch myself every single day because I get to inspire young minds as my career.”

The 27-year-old will respond on behalf of graduates at Thursday’s ceremony, which will celebrate the academic achievements of the latest group of students to complete their studies at USC’s Fraser Coast campus.

Twenty-eight students will be awarded degrees in Nursing Science, Human Services, Primary Education, Animal Ecology and Marketing at the event in the upstairs ballroom of the Beach House Hotel, Hervey Bay, from 4pm.

“Standing on the stage to make the graduate’s address will be an absolute honour and a chance to reflect on what has been an amazing journey,” Amie said.

“I always believed I was never good enough to go to university, and growing up I was told to be a realist and get a job that paid bills, rather than doing something you love.”

After leaving Urangan State High School, she decided to aim for a career in retail management but after several years said she felt in a rut and needed a change.

“Neither of my parents finished school, so when I told them I was enrolling at university they just assumed it would be a quick turnaround back to working at the supermarket,” she said.

“They are undoubtedly proud of me now and all I have achieved and will be there on Thursday to watch me graduate with a Bachelor of Primary Education.”

Amie will be presented with a USC Commendation for Academic Excellence at the ceremony after achieving a grade point average of more than 6.3 out of 7.

It is one of many awards and accolades gained during her studies, including the 2019 USC Graduate Teacher (Primary Education) award and the Fraser Coast Anglican College Prize in Education for highest achieving second or third year Fraser Coast student.

As well as excelling academically, Amie was a mentor to other USC students and designed a series of classroom activities that integrated technology with the Australian Curriculum and delivered professional development for local teachers.

She volunteered at local schools and the Red Cross and was nominated for the Australia Day 2019 Young Citizen of the Year award.

“I think what helped me to thrive was that I just found something I enjoyed so much. And obviously hard work and the support of family, friends and lecturers,” she said.

“I found studying at USC’s Fraser Coast campus a more personalised way to gain your education – it is warm and inclusive, and it just feels like home.

“It wasn’t scary or daunting and I didn’t have to go far to study here.”

Applications are open to study at USC next year.

— Clare McKay

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