Past recipients - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Past recipients

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Marayke Jonkers

BSocSc(CommWk) 2004, BA(Comn 2006) The inaugural Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award was presented to medal-winning paralympian Marayke Jonkers in recognition of being named Queensland Young Achiever of the Year 2005. Marayke beat a field of 400 contenders.

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Dr Sonia Marshall

When Sonia’s daughter Evie was born 14 years ago with incurable cystic fibrosis (CF), her life expectancy was 35 years. She was vulnerable to progressive and recurrent lung infections, poor growth, and chronic inflammation of the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and heart. In August 2018, thanks to Sonia and her family working tirelessly for three years, and after three unsuccessful attempts, the CF drug ‘Orkambi’ was approved for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which meant the cost for patients to access this drug went from $250,000 a year to a maximum cost of $500 a year, and, added an extra 23 years of life.

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Kristy Ellis (nee Munroe)

BBus 2006 Kristy Ellis (nee Munroe) was recognised for her achievements in Surf Lifesaving on a local, national and international level.

Alumnus of the Year, Regional Achievement

Andrew Fairbairn

Since graduating from USC in 2001 with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing), Andrew Fairbairn has built a successful career in Australia and overseas in the tourism, marketing and destination development profession. Andrew has worked in senior roles, leading sales and marketing teams, for Wotif Asia; and luxury hotel chains in Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Fiji and Sydney; getting his first break at the Sheraton Noosa, or Sofitel as it is now known. In 2017, Andrew returned home joining Visit Sunshine Coast, our regional tourism organisation, to lead the Industry Development team.

Alumnus of the Year, Rising Star

LCDR Thomas Miller

Bachelor of Nursing 2010 - Master of Advanced Practice (Emergency Care) 2016 Lieutenant Commander Miller is a full-time specialist Emergency Nursing Officer with the Royal Australian Navy who was sponsored by the Australian Defence Force to complete his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at USC. He has recently returned from military operations in the Middle East where he was selected to be Commander of Nursing for the Military Hospital and the Officer in Command of the Emergency Department at one of the largest military bases in Kabul, Afghanistan. This involved coordinating the activities of an emergency department in the centre of a warzone with clinicians from over twelve countries.

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Dr Craig Hansen

BSc(Public Health) 2002, BSc (Hons) 2003, PhD 2007 - Dr Craig Hansen was recognised for his doctoral and postdoctoral research in epidemiology (the study of diseases in populations) which included field work in the South African township of Soweto. In December 2007 Craig commenced a post-doctoral fellowship with United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Dr Elke Hacker

BSc 2002, BSc (Hons) 2003 - Dr Elke Hacker received the 2008 Outstanding Alumni Award for her research work into the genetics of melanoma cancer at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR).

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Sean Hurley

Bachelor of Business 2005 - Since leaving USC and moving overseas 18 years ago, Sean has built a career in retail, finding a passion for global trade and cross-cultural relationships. All of which has led him to his current role as a Country Director for Spanish company, Mango, based between Barcelona and Dubai, managing 80 countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Science, Health and Education

Emily Orchard

BSC 2002 - Emily is the Senior Forensic Technician and Senior Occupational Health and Safety Consultant, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. Emily was closely involved in the Victorian Bushfire Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process in early 2009.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Keryn Jones

BSocSc 2005 - Keryn is a dedicated campaigner for social justice and ecological sustainability in her role as Councillor, Division 3, with the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and previously as the Coordinator of the Sunshine Coast Environment Council. Please note: this is archival information and may not reflect the recipients' current work details.

Alumnus of the Year, Regional Achievement

Angela Harrison

EMBA 2018, Bachelor of Business (International Business) 2013 - From leaving school at 14 to working in senior levels of business management, Angela’s path to success has been anything but ordinary. With no formal fundraising education, Angela has raised several millions of dollars through a heart and passion for local community. This has been underpinned by her commitment to tertiary education and applying what she has learnt in both her Bachelor of Business and EMBA degrees to shaping and influencing a region. Angela’s efforts at RACQ CareFlight Rescue, managing key stakeholder relationships across south east Queensland encompassing 11 council regions and raising more than $2.7 million in 24 months, were acknowledged by receiving the 2015 Sunshine Coast Business Professional Woman of the Year Award.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Business

Jonty Bush

BBus 2002 - Jonty Bush was awarded 2009 Young Australian of the Year by the National Australia Day Council for her dedicated work on prevention initiatives and law reforms for homicide victims in her role as CEO of the Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group.

Alumnus of the Year, Rising Star

Ashleigh Morris

Bachelor of Environmental Health Science 2015 - In just a few years since graduating from USC as a Chancellor’s Medallist and the first USC student to receive the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Undergraduate Award, Ashleigh has been unstoppable in her mission to reduce global waste. After working on some of the world’s most intractable environmental issues, including how to transform the supply chain of one of the world’s largest producers of palm oil in Indonesia, Ashleigh’s primary focus now is on being the catalyst for Australia's transition from the linear ‘Take, Make, Use, Dispose’ economy to the circular economy.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Science, Health and Education

Madonna Kennedy

BSc(PubHlth) 2001 - Madonna is the ATOD Prevention Coordinator (Northern) for the Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Prevention Unit, based in Townsville, Queensland. Her role covers the area north to the Torres Strait Islands, west to the Northern Territory border, and south to Mackay.

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Captain Jan Becker

Bachelor of Nursing Science: Graduate Entry 2009 - USC nursing graduate Capt. Jan Becker is well known and respected in the aviation industry as CEO of Becker Helicopters Group — the Southern Hemisphere’s largest helicopter flight academy. She is a commercial helicopter pilot and board member of Helicopter International Association based in Washington DC. Her drive, vision and business acumen have been recognised with multiple honours, including the 2014 Telstra Queensland Business Women’s Owner Award and the 2013 Telstra Australian Medium Business Award.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Business

Dr PM Kam

PhD 2008 - Dr PM Kam is the Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council Hong Kong, a statutory body established to conduct investigation of auditing irregularities and enquiries into non-compliance of accounting requirements in relation to listed entities in Hong Kong.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Dr Gary Crew

DCA 2005 - Dr Gary Crew has published over 40 novels and illustrated books for children and youth on every continent in the world in 15 languages.

Alumnus of the Year, Rising Star

Megan Leane

Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics 2013 - After graduating from USC, Megan researched locations that were underserviced in her field and chose Gladstone to establish herself as the only ‘practising private dietitian’ in the region when the new Gladstone GP Super Clinic opened its doors. Over the past four years, Megan’s clinic has grown from one day a week to a full-time practice employing two other nutrition and dietetics professionals. Not only has Megan's clinical care setting broadened, she has also accepted government, corporate and community contracts for QLD Health, Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council and Headspace Gladstone.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Science, Health and Education

Nubia Ramos

BSc (BiomedSc) 2007, BSc(Hons) 2008, PhD 2011 - In June 2011, Nubia secured a two year Postdoctoral Fellowship at one of the world's leading medical universities, Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Business

Dave Gilbert

BBus(IntBus) 2006 - Beginning his career as a diesel mechanic in Mt Isa over 20 years ago, Dave is now the Executive General Manager Operations, AGC (An AusGroup Company).

Alumnus of the Year, Regional Achievement

Mathew Davis

Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) 2004 - Since graduating at USC in 2004, marine scientist Mathew Davis has worked in the world of environmental management, especially water quality monitoring, mostly in South East Queensland and beyond. In 2013 Mathew founded Australian Coastal and Marine Ecology (ACME) and has lead his team of qualified environmental professionals on a multitude of infrastructure projects, including a 7-year contract on the Moreton Bay Rail Link Project for the Department and Transport and Main Roads. In 2017, Mathew won the Unitywater Moreton Bay Showcase Award for innovative education programs and fundraising efforts for important environmental projects under another company he founded, Coastal Protection Core. Some of these impacts include donating the equivalent of 140 days of education to disadvantaged children in Zimbabwe, 33,000 days of clean water to families in Cambodia, and 15,072 horticultural training sessions to children in India.

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Ryan Darnell

Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Business 2003 - Executive Director, Facilities Management, Khidmah, Abu Dhabi - Not long after completing his studies, Ryan secured a job with Jones Lang LaSalle in Sydney as a Facilities Administrator. He was quickly promoted to Facilities Manager, taking on extra leadership assignments with clients such as Coca Cola Amatil, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley. During this time, Ryan won several corporate awards, completed the Jones Lang LaSalle ‘Leaders of the Future Program’ and received his industry accreditation as a Facilities Manager.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Chris Raine

BA/BBus 2009 - Chris Raine is the founder and CEO of website and blog Hello Sunday Morning (HSM). In 2009 Chris committed to not drinking for 12 months and documented the journey through a blog and Facebook.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, business and philanthropic leadership

Tristan Kurz

BBus 2004 - As dealer principal of Coastline BMW at Currimundi on the Sunshine Coast, business acumen combined with philanthropic leadership has brought Tristan many accolades.

Alumnus of the Year, Regional Achievement

Katie Toney

Bachelor of Communication 2006 - Online Presenter, 7 News Queensland - In 2005 Katie Toney (nee Blowers) began her journalism career with the 7 Network as a USC student intern. By the end of her final exams, she was employed as a cadet reporter in a full time role at the Bundaberg bureau. Over the last 10 years, Katie has reported on a variety of hard hitting and feature stories such as the Jayant Patel scandal, Daniel Morcombe’s murder, floods and cyclones.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, international community development leadership

Suzie Burford

BA(IntStud) 2005, BA(Hons) 2006 - Suzie is the manager of the International Projects Group (IPG) at USC and has been recognised for her leadership and dedication to international community development.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, ocular tissue engineering research

Dr Laura Bray

BSc 2007 - Since graduating at 18 with a science degree from USC, Laura has been involved in medical research into the evaluation of silk based materials for ocular tissue reconstruction.

Alumnus of the Year, Rising Star

Scott Barker

Bachelor of Science (Sport and Exercise Science) 2006 - Head of Performance Analysis, Brisbane Broncos - Scott was in the first intake of sport and exercise science students at USC in 1999. Around the same time, he wrote a letter to Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett offering his services at training and ended up volunteering there for two years, doing everything from holding up the tackle bags to filling water bottles.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, executive leadership and management

Jenny Morawska

MBA 2000 - Jenny is the Founder and CEO of The Morawska Group - a global management consultancy specialising in strategy, structure, sustainable economic and leadership development and business operational excellence.

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award

Debbie Platz

MBA 2004, GDEd 2011 - Debbie Platz is the Chief Superintendent and Executive Manager, Training and Development, of the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Public Safety Business Agency with 28 years of service. In this role, Debbie is responsible for the training of approximately 800 police recruits each year and 15,000 service personnel across Queensland, including investigative, intelligence, forensics, counter terrorism and detective training. She is also responsible for the training and development of over 300 staff from the Public Safety Business Agency, which enables the Queensland's police, fire and emergency services agencies to deliver the best public safety services to the community. Debbie has and continues to represent QPS on numerous boards and committees at State, National and International levels. These include: the Professionalisation Forum of the Australian and New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA); the Women in Policing Reference Group ANZPAA; General Secretary of the Australasian Council of Women and Policing for the past three years; the Special Task Force in to Domestic and Family Violence, and Secretariat of the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Society of Evidence Based Policing.

Outstanding Alumnus Award, research in plant biotechnology

Dr Amal Johnston

MSc 2002 - Amal has had an outstanding career trajectory and made significant contributions in the fields of plant breeding, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics research.

Alumnus of the Year Award, Rising Star

Dr Chris Walker

BSc(EnvSc) 2006, PhD 2012 - Chris is the Environmental Manager and Senior Environmental Scientist for Covey Associates, a leading Sunshine Coast based, multi-discipline, engineering consultancy with clients throughout Australia and abroad. His specialties are: stormwater management, urban lake design and management, Water Sensitive Urban Design, erosion and sediment control and overall environmental project management of commercial, residential and industrial developments. In this role, Chris has made a significant impact on reducing the environmental impacts of large scale urban developments and improving the environmental health of water courses throughout Queensland. Chris has significant experience in the design and management (construction and operational) of constructed lakes, wetlands, floating wetlands, and bio-retention basins. He has a particularly high level of expertise in the design and management of constructed urban lakes and stormwater quality modelling, which was the basis of his PhD research at USC.

Alumnus of the Year Award, Regional Achievement

Brendan Powell

MBA 2006 - Brendan Powell is the Co-owner and Director, Business Operations, of Queensland Oztag, a social, non-contact sport that can be played from ages six to 60.

Alumnus of the Year Award, Regional Achievement

Bill Darby

GCBusAdmin 2006, MBA 2007 - Bill co-founded project marketing company Village Management Corporation in 1995 and with local developers, Reed Property Group, pioneered the concept of blending student housing at USC into a private residential property investment model – first The Village, then UniCentral. There are now dozens of private student accommodation complexes around QLD operating under the same private investment model they developed. In 2007, Village Management took on the unit sales and management model for the proposed new Rumba Beach Resort project in Caloundra, acquiring the management rights for the resort as well, which it still retains. The sale of $60 million worth of investment apartments in the first 60 days of marketing broke all previous records for the area.

Alumnus of the Year Award, Rising Star

Jessica Huddart

BA(Des&Mktg) 2006 - Jessica Huddart is the Creative Director and Partner of design ventures practice, Josephmark, leading a team of 25 staff in Brisbane, New York and Los Angeles.

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award

Dr Warish Ahmed

Phd 2006 - Dr Warish Ahmed is a Senior Research Scientist in the Land and Water Flagship, CSIRO, Ecosciences Precinct, Brisbane, and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC).