Your stories

Stories from past students, staff members, and community partners.

Jacqueline Adriaanse and daughter LillaJacqueline Adriaanse and daughter Lilla

My journey with SCU (Lismore campus) began back in 1997. I was fresh out of high school and being an art enthusiast, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Communications program majoring in Visual Arts and Media Communications. My memories of SCU during that period are memorable. The uni bar was alive and the free food on offer the day before 'Austudy' was a gift that kept us in good health and spirit. How we longed for that vegan food van. The buzz around campus, the art and music scenes and activism were roaring - keeping me motivated and busy during my undergraduate degree. It was the 90's after all.

After graduating in 2000 I had a mixed bag of adventures. I travelled and moved, more than the norm, working in various contract positions around NSW, VIC and QLD before taking the plunge and moving to Japan to teach English. This journey sparked an enthusiastic interest in teaching and after 2 years in Japan, I decided to move back to Australia where I commenced my Diploma of Education at SCU in Tweed Heads, NSW.

It was an intense year as any graduate of the Dip Ed can no doubt vouch for but the quirky lectures delivered by Dr Neville Jennings kept us entertained and inspired. At the end of 2006 I once again graduated from SCU with my Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) specialising in Visual Arts then ventured out to teach at a number of high schools across the Gold Coast and Brisbane. In 2008 I relocated back to Japan after being offered a creditable teaching position at a University in Fukushima.

Whilst teaching full time I also undertook my postgraduate studies studying a Post Graduate Certificate in TESOL online, once again, and for the third time with SCU. For the next three years I was based in Fukushima until the tsunami struck which as a consequence, had me inevitably returning home to Australia where I continued to teach English to international students at a private English college.

About a year ago a position became vacant at a NSW university working in the international office supporting international students during their studies in Australia. I applied for the position and was successful no doubt due to my international experience and education qualifications. Although currently not teaching, I thrive on working in the educational sector and in a support role with international students.

My journey with SCU has had vast and positive ramifications and has put me in the position of where I am today. I'm now looking at completing my Master's degree in Education and look forward to writing the next chapter of my SCU story.

Jacqueline Adriaanse

Gary Birtch and the love of his life, StaceyGary Birtch (right) and the love of his life, Stacey

During my final semester at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, I stumbled across an information booth promoting an amazing opportunity to complete my studies in Education abroad and so the memories began...

As a novice traveller I took flight in February 2008 and flew out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada all the way across the Pacific Ocean until I arrived in Sydney, New South Wales to officially begin my unforgettable journey. Upon arrival it hit me, "Wow, I'm all alone in a new country". With that thought in mind, I grabbed my three large pieces of luggage and jumped on my connecting flight which would bring me to my final destination, the Gold Coast airport, where an unknown and exciting opportunity stood waiting to begin. Upon my arrival at SCU Gold Coast Campus I was alone and wondering, "Where am I going to live?" Then I realised that I wasn't the only one with the same predicament. Now the obstacle was to find a suitable roommate compatible for a small northern Ontario guy who enjoys having fun and being adventurous. Sure enough I soon met none other than outgoing Toronto, Ontario, Canada native, Sean Broda, and we quickly became roommates and lifelong friends. Within a week of being in my new surroundings I began to forget about the great white north and embrace life down under.

Throughout my ten months of living in Australia and studying at Southern Cross University there were many memorable experiences within the classroom as well as away from it. Who could ever forget the smell of calamari & chips we always brought to HSIE curriculum class, or Neville's famous bowties and boundless humour that all made us feel like our dads were right there supporting us.

How about the memories of travelling and experiencing the entire East coast from a rented Wicked van with my new friends or the sheer beauty of the natural landscape that only Australia has to offer? As a diehard ice hockey fan in a country with a strong passion for Aussie Rules and Rugby, one could only jump on the bandwagon and adopt this fanaticism as my own. Imagine an Aussie fan mixed with a Canadian hockey fan which can only equal sports passion on steroids. What an opportunity to cheer alongside Australian fans who have led me to become an Aussie fan on the local and international stages forever.

Unfortunately my one year at SCU had to come to an end and it was time to fly back north to Canada. With no job lined up in my hometown of North Bay, Ontario, Canada, I made my way to our country's capital, Ottawa, where I met the love of my life, Stacey, and obtained a career opportunity as a permanent high school teacher at Rideau High School. The opportunities of teaching at Murwillumbah and Banora Point High Schools really paved the way in the ability to understand and deal with numerous and sometimes delicate situations that may arise in a classroom setting to ensure all students are given equal opportunities to succeed academically and grow as individuals.

The joy and happiness that I felt during my time at SCU are forever logged as valuable and priceless memories. I will continue to share my stories with my future students and friends and will always encourage my peers to travel to Australia to enjoy all that there is to offer in what I would now call my second home.

Gary Birtch

Chantal Bradshaw with her two daughters Chantal Bradshaw with her two daughters

My SCU journey began at The Tweed Heads campus in 2007. At that time, I had a one year old daughter and I was looking for some intellectual stimulation as well as a career change away from the variable working hours of resort management.

I had always enjoyed working with young people so I decided to have a go at a teaching degree. I already had a Bachelor of Accountancy so I enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) specialising in Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) with a part-time load.

Having a student teaching placement very early in the degree meant that I could see if I was cut out for the profession before I invested too much time and money. I absolutely loved my first practicum! And it was with a great deal of passion that I undertook the next three years, having another baby along the way.

Over those next years I looked forward to Tuesday and Thursday evenings when I would eagerly abandon motherhood to engage with my peers at our tutorials. My peers came from all walks of life and countries which added greatly to the fun of class. With the knowledge gained in class and by using night-time baby feeds to complete assessment tasks, I was able to maintain a Distinction average.

I have very fond memories of my tutors especially Professor Neville Jennings and my HSIE specialisation coach Mr Peter Wilcox. Our classes revelled in their stories of teaching and we diligently noted all of their advice adding to our "bag of tricks".

So often today, I recall their words of wisdom and passion for their profession. It was Neville Jennings himself who helped to secure my first permanent teaching placement. As referee he received a phone call from my now Principal while he was out bushwalking. Lucky for me he answered his phone and my family and I relocated to the South Coast of NSW where I am a teacher in the HSIE faculty and we are enjoying our rural lifestyle.

Sean Broda and band, Sean Broda and band

Sitting at a desk in Toronto, Canada during a frigidly cold January has nothing on walking the beach in Coolangatta, surfboard in hand, with the feeling of being cold a distant memory. After only five days of arriving at the Gold Coast Campus I had an apartment with my new buddy, Gary Birtch, with our third Canadian campadre, Tony Finelli, living right down the street. Being a two minute walk from campus and a five minute walk to the nicest beach on the East Coast, it's easy to say that I had made a major change in my life.

There were so many great memories living in Tweed Heads, NSW. It's really hard to narrow down one thing during my year stay down under. There was an easy bus ride up the coast to visit my friends in Surfers Paradise, watching the Quicksilver Pro surf competition right on our own beach, Thanksgiving break in Sydney Harbour and travelling the Coast in a Wicked Camper Van from Cairns back home. Even though seeing the country was an amazing experience during my off time from school, I'll never forget day to day life on campus and my experience teaching in local High Schools. These environments let me immerse myself in real Aussie culture and gain unforgettable life experiences that would help me as a teacher back home and also in an unforeseen direction I would soon take.

While attending school, my younger brother Dru was working as a bartender in Surfers Paradise. We are both musicians - me a guitar player and Dru a singer, but we had never really played music other than as a hobby. Dru and I had quickly written a number of songs and ignited a passion for starting a band and seeing what could come from our new endeavour.

After returning home at the end of 2008 my new degree has given me the opportunity to start a career as a High School Supply Teacher and have the means and time to travel the world with my band, Reverse Grip. We have toured Japan, Australia (returning to my second home!), Germany, France, Wales, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and South America… amongst others I might not be recalling at the moment. Touring can be a bit of a blur!

Our main professors, Neville Jennings and Peter Wilcox gave us the guidance and freedom to grow as potential new young professionals and provided an environment that gave us confidence and practical skills you wouldn't gain in a lot of courses. I've since received a lot of support from Neville Jennings in my side career as a guitarist and can definitely say I've gained a fan as well!

Attending Southern Cross University wasn't just a regular educational experience, it was a journey that changed the course of my life in far more ways than I can explain here.

Sean Broda

Anna Delzoppo in Vanuatu
Anna Delzoppo in Vanuatu

I graduated from Southern Cross University's Lismore Campus in 2006, after completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts, majoring in Printmaking. I then returned in 2008 and graduated from the Tweed Heads Campus with a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary).

I really enjoyed my time at Southern Cross and cherish the many valuable experiences I had during my time there. I had some very inspiring lecturers and mentors, who contributed to who I am today. Some of my fellow students are now very dear friends for life and I look back on my time at Southern Cross fondly. One experience that stands out for me was the 2006 Grad Show. The exhibition at the end of the course is an integral part of the Visual Arts program and a great way to end your time together as a group, as well as being a good stepping stone out into the wider art world. The experience brought us as individuals closer together, taught us how to work as a group, gave us skills in all aspects of organising a major event, including; publicity, catering, installation, lighting, cataloguing, selling and time management and it was a lot of fun.

Since graduating I have been working as a High School Visual Arts Teacher, a job I love, as well as travelling and studying externally (Bachelor of Behavioural Studies with a minor in Indigenous Studies). At the end of 2012 I was lucky enough to be part of a Shearwater Steiner School Year 10 Class Trip to Pele Island, a small Island of Vanuatu, which was an amazing experience. The photo is from that trip, showing a young girl and the woven mat she taught me to make. Teaching is just as much about learning. It is a process of give and take, an exchange. Southern Cross showed me that and I am forever grateful.

Adam Guise Adam Guise

Greens candidate for Lismore in the 2015 State Election, Adam Guise, took 10 years of exploring different careers related to his degrees before finding his calling in community campaigning.

Having grown up on the Mid North coast of New South Wales on farms in the Macleay Valley and the Nambucca Valley, Adam had an appreciation of the country lifestyle that made Southern Cross University his study location of first choice. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws in 2004, and a Graduate Diploma of Education at Southern Cross University in 2005, Adam tried his hand at numerous jobs before settling on his current pursuit.

"Moving to Lismore to study at a regional university was a real boon for me staying connected to the landscape I love. I was always reluctant to move to the city for study when there were great regional universities like Southern Cross University offering the courses I wanted," Adam said.

"I am grateful for my time at SCU and the high calibre of lecturers I had.

"During University I was engaged in political ideas, but not overtly political or a member of a party. Some of my favourite subjects were in my politics major, which was chiefly due to my tutors who consistently challenged me and expanded my field of political ideas. However, it was not until relatively late in my life that I became overtly political.

"Throughout University I thought I'd practice law, but after graduating I realised I was driven to remedy the causes of injustice, rather than simply be a cog in the system dealing with the symptoms of the problem. This is why I added a teaching degree at the end of my studies, so that I could inspire a new generation of kids to fight for social justice and protect our life support systems.

"After graduating I worked at Trinity Catholic College for five years, before backpacking solo through Asia and Europe. It was here that I realised how much I loved Australia, both its people and its environment, and was the catalyst for returning with a renewed passion to become politically active.

"The best thing about SCU was the quality of teaching staff. I distinctly remember my lecturers being at the cutting edge of their fields; and with the combination of generous face to face teaching hours and a high internal student presence, university provided some of the most intellectually satisfying years of my life.

"I took the plunge of city life to take up the position as policy and legislation advisor to Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham in NSW Parliament in 2013. This is where I put my law degree to good use, through the drafting of legislation and policy in the member's portfolios of mining, agriculture and crown Lands. During this time I had the opportunity to successfully negotiate 23 amendments to the government's reforms of the cemeteries and interment sector. It is humbling to think that I am likely to be buried under laws that I helped write!

"As a graduate from University I realise that not everyone has this opportunity, and that it seems a privilege to have the chance for a university education, rather than a right. This opportunity will be severely constrained if we go down the path of student loans and privatisation. It will be a sad day for the lucky country if we turn our backs on seeing education as a right, rather than a privilege.

"Having now spent most of my adult life in the University town of Lismore, I realise how important universities are to regional areas. Not only do they bring opportunities for further education to locals, they are also the lifeblood to their region. As one of the largest employers in our community, Southern Cross University brings a whole lot of income into our community through student rent, food and services. Not only this, universities keep regions progressive in ideas and vibrant in terms of the youth, culture and extra-curricular activities student life brings to a region.

"It took me 10 years of trying my hand at different things and travel before I realised what my calling was. My teaching skills, legal knowledge and political understanding gave me the confidence to be active in the Gasfield Free Northern Rivers campaign for the past two and a half years. This culminated in a great victory for people power at the Bentley Blockade which has resulted in a temporary reprieve from further unconventional gas drilling in the Northern Rivers."

Graduates: Toshi Gunn and Bevin FondacaroToshi Gunn and Bevin Fondacaro

We attended Southern Cross University in 2007, to obtain a Graduate Diploma in Education.

For us, it is not a memory that stands out but an idea Southern Cross represented.  Being foreign exchange students, Southern Cross represented a reliable family/community that could be relied upon during our time abroad.

Both of us have gone on to becoming leaders in our individual schools, located in the Upper Grand District School Board in Southern Ontario.

Southern Cross provided us not only with up-to-date pedagogiacal approaches and theory, but an environment that allowed/provided a supportive practical environment to test out the theories delivered.  Southern Cross has gifted us with the ability to be flexible and reflective in our teaching practice.

Lauren HankinsonLauren Hankinson

I was an undergraduate student at Southern Cross University Lismore Campus from February 1998 to November 2001 completing my Bachelor of Education (Honours) and then a postgraduate student at Southern Cross University Tweed Campus from July 2003 to June 2005 completing my Master of Education.

Without a doubt my fondest memories are the one-to-one advice and verbal feedback received from the various staff members in the School of Education on research papers I was writing or had written. To have access to such great minds that had spent their careers in education was invaluable to my becoming the teacher I am today. I also absolutely loved my teaching practicums at local schools. They were an invaluable part of my learning and made all the late nights of assignment writing all the more worthwhile when I could see all the theory I was learning put into practice.

I have worked for the past eleven years in twenty-two different schools as a relieving Assistant Principal, temporary and casual K-6 primary school teacher, technology teacher, Japanese teacher and music teacher. This year, I have created a school website and a school app that has been made available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. I am a presenter at a technology conference held at Jupiters Casino next year where I will be sharing how I teach my students 21st century skills, how teachers can establish their own virtual classroom and how to connect with the school community through blogs and various social media accounts.

From January 2014, I will commence a new chapter in my life as I have just been appointed a permanent employee of the NSW Department of Education as a Principal of a small primary school in Northern NSW. Educational leadership is where I have always hoped my career would lead and I couldn't be more excited to be there at age 33! I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my university studies prepared me well for the career I have had so far and it also gave me the confidence and drive to continue achieving in every job at every school in which I have worked.

I didn't have the typical "university" experience. I lived at home with my parents, went to Uni to attend classes and didn't go to other university events. At times I wonder did I miss out on some possible fun that other students enjoyed but I don't have regrets. I worked hard at university and I believe I gained the respect of my lecturers and tutors, as they knew how serious I was about my dream to be the best teacher I could be. I haven't changed much actually. I still work long hours and strive to achieve in all that I do. I'm lucky to have a supportive and loving partner who never minds the hours I work and can see how happy it makes me to know that I am doing my best for my school and what will benefit my students.

Lauren Hankinson

Kevin Hogan Kevin Hogan

Federal Member for Page MP Kevin Hogan swapped the trading floor for playground detention when he took up a teaching post in the late 1990s after completing his teaching degree at Southern Cross University.

The former money market and bond trader and his wife, Karen, had decided to relocate from Sydney to her home town of Lismore to raise their children.

"Working in the money markets was a lot of fun but I didn't necessarily feel like I was contributing much to society. I wanted to be more of service. I had this idea that I wanted to be a high school teacher, which was a huge pay cut," Mr Hogan said.

"I did the dip ed (Diploma of Education) at Southern Cross University in 1998, focusing on social sciences, and got a job straight away at St Mary's High School at Casino and worked there for the next eight or nine years teaching the business studies/commerce stream, and also English and religion. It was a lot of fun. I loved the community in Casino."

Mr Hogan said teachers played an important and influential role.

"Teaching kids is very special. I ended up doing an economics degree because of my high school economics teacher, who was a great teacher."

He said he enjoyed his time at Southern Cross University.

"The graduate diploma in education at SCU was perfect because it was one year. Other dip eds at the time were 18 months. It meant I was studying the course in Lismore which is where we wanted to live, and our children were able to grow up among our extended family.

"When I did my undergraduate economics degree at Flinders University I was young and hung out with a lot of young people. I liked the learning environment at Southern Cross University. It's a regional university with a great diversity of people, more so than what I remember from my undergraduate days.

"I very much got how important the University was to our community, not only to provide educational opportunities to people like me who wanted to live and work in the community, but I realised how economically important the University is to the community. And not just to Lismore, but the whole region."

Karen Hogan also started her career in the financial markets but later switched to nursing which, back then, saw her train through hospital system.

"When Karen decided to further her qualifications she started a nursing degree, via distance education, initially at University of New England-Northern Rivers and later graduated through SCU. So Southern Cross has played an important role in my family, too," he said.

Mr Hogan, a National, has been the federal Member for Page since September 2013. A member of the Finance Select Committee, he brings direct experience working with the Reserve Bank.

"I entered the financial markets in 1985 when deregulation was under way and the Australian dollar had been floated. It was an exciting time. I was managing a multi-million dollar portfolio for Colonial First State, managing staff, and doing a morning SkyNews update on what had happened on the financial markets overnight. I was 23 and 24 years of age.

"One of my roles was dealing with the Reserve Bank every day. They influenced the money supply in the banking system by buying and selling securities and back then they would only do it with six or seven organisations and I worked for one called GIO Securities, an official money market dealer. That taught me a lot about how the Reserve Bank worked and how monetary policy worked."

Mr Hogan reflected on Southern Cross University's 20th anniversary.

"Southern Cross has been a great success story regularly punching above its weight. Yet its real success lies in providing quality education to students from the regions," he said.

"There are always pressures. Higher education is a competitive process and there are challenges. As the federal Member, I'm in constant contact with the Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee and a number of others at the University about a whole array of issues."

In March this year, Mr Hogan officially opened the renovations to student common rooms and the advocacy offices at the Lismore campus, funded through the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF).

"Without sounding too political, as a member of the Nationals, especially where we represent the regions, we very much understand regional universities are very different to metropolitan ones. We are very conscious that the SSAF, in country universities, is not political. What SSAF does here is help provide essential services and infrastructure."

Kevin Hogan

Helen HutchesonHelen Hutcheson

To start on a sad note, I lost my mum to cancer at the age of 17 which influenced my final year at high school.  I then got a job and was encouraged to study at night at TAFE in Canberra.  I completed my Certificate in Accounting Procedures in 1985 while continuing to work full time and fully supporting myself.  My last full time employment was at the Australian National University in the finance and superannuation sections. I enjoyed University life until my first child was born in 1988.  After a couple of months off I started accounting work part time working through my new business - Computerised Accounting Systems.  I became an MYOB trainer and consultant and continued to run a very successful MYOB business until we moved to Queensland in 2006 - over 20 years!

I have always felt a little disappointed that I was not able to complete a degree and in some way this has held me back. In Queensland I started some MYOB consulting businesses but mainly worked for a Japanese company as group accountant. Remote access gave me the freedom to consider studying again, however the regular demands meant attending classes would be very difficult. I investigated many institutions and courses but felt I would be redoing what I already knew to gain a degree. This is when I was fortunate to discover Southern Cross University and to be told that I may have a different avenue to a Masters rather than completing a degree first - this was a real eye opener and I saw the light.  I submitted an application to study a Master in Business Administration and with my experience was granted access to study via correspondence, with exams at the Tweed campus.

Just being accepted was one huge step for me and I was committed to make this work. With no financial assistance I knew I would need to work hard at both the study and the consulting but I was no stranger to work and the rewards would be there. I was already planning to write but would not let myself start until I had completed my study. Overly keen, I started three subjects in my first trimester and struggled but passed - not a good start, but the help I received from Southern Cross was amazing and the support and comments helped build my results and most of all my confidence in my ability to write! I have always been good with numbers but to write a book I would need better writing skills. Trial and error, good and bad assignments, but all helped me learn not only the subject but better writing skills and improved confidence.

I graduated with an MBA in a little over two years in April 2012 and my first book, 'Simple Money 4 You' was published in June 2013. I am very passionate about my book as it reflects my own teaching.  'Simple Money 4 You' is a simple money matters book specifically designed for those who struggle with money (just as I struggled with words, until I studied at SCU). It is the perfect reference book for all students who may be good at words or creativity but not numbers.

I cannot thank SCU enough for the experience of further education, the confidence and skills that I have achieved beyond the course level, without which I would not be a published author. I now plan to continue with a second book and of course the promotion of my first book. However my heart's desire is actually to teach people that numbers and money management are not difficult, the book is only a tool.  People only need to understand what is required to achieve success and if I can get my MBA (and you will notice I choose Business Administration and not Finance which would have been easier) then everyone can learn enough about money not to make some of the simple mistakes that too many people are making.

Along with the second book, I will probably complete more books, but will always teach at some level. SCU is a wonderful, supportive learning environment and I am proud to be a graduate from this University.

Helen Hutcheson

Dr Neville JenningsDr Neville Jennings

In late 1989, my wife Dr Leonie Jennings was appointed to the School of Education as a lecturer. We had previously spent a few days in a student residence when visiting Lismore so we knew our way around the Lismore campus. It was a delight to find that long-time friends such as Sue Sawkins and Beth Hansen were already employed by UNE Northern Rivers.

We took up residence in Alstonville early in 1990 and eventually bought a home in Wollongbar. Leonie taught Australian and Asian Studies alongside the legendary Maurie Ryan while I gained employment at the Centre for Professional Development in Education - a joint venture between the University and the North Coast Regional Office of the NSW Department of Education. Through that role I got to know Lionel Phelps, Zbys Klich, Gordon McLeod and Bob Wright as we organised international symposia and ran professional development programs for teachers. At one stage I was asked to coordinate a Japanese Language for Teachers Program that eventually trained about 100 language teachers through an interactive technology.

By 1994, the two institutional partners had withdrawn support from the CPDE and I was working as a tutor for the School of Education. Leonie had moved to the Centre for Work and Training with Allan Ellis, Michelle Wallace, Merle Rankin, Brian Griffin and Peter Miller. They developed a Graduate Diploma in Training and Development using a large grant from the Education and Training Foundation. I recall vividly the lively discussions that were held over the naming of the new university. The first Vice Chancellor proved to be a very different personality to Professor Rod Treyvaud who moved the institution towards independence from UNE. The new VC, Barry Conyngham, gave a guest lecture for my students on Asian influences in Australian music. He saw himself as the conductor of a tertiary orchestra. In 1996, Leonie and Anne Graham contributed a chapter to a new book on action research edited by Ortun Zuber Skerritt. When Barry Conyngham launched the book, espousing the values of "learning organisations", he made the startlingly honest observation that universities are often the last institutions to encompass the learning organisation ethos. Little seems to have changed.

In those early years we spent a lot of time travelling between the developing campuses and attending conferences. We forged significant links with our colleagues and students. As we wind down our active involvement with the university it is gratifying to see many of our past students making a positive contribution as staff members of the university and leaders in the professional world and in business. We mourn the loss of a few close colleagues who played an important role in our lives (Lou Randall, Brenda Hall-Taylor, Trevor Lucas and Sheryl Bebbington and Wendy Douglas). I was inspired by academics such as John Barry and Baden Offord. In the early days I attempted to liven up lectures and tutorials with the old multi-media stalwarts (video, colour slides, cassette tapes, cd's, overhead projectors) and a range of inspiring guest speakers. It is fascinating to see how the technologies have changed and SCU has been in the forefront of such changes.

I eventually gained a permanent position in the School of Education and worked closely with Brian Kean and Renata Phelps on an Innovative Links Project that involved local schools. This project allowed us to engage in a nation-wide evaluation of the Innovative Links Program. I was involved with the training of teachers from Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea and my visits to Port Moresby were highlights of that experience. In the meantime I had begun my PhD studies as an external candidate through James Cook University. Leonie took a redundancy at the end of 2001 and returned to the classroom as a technology teacher. I retired temporarily when we moved to Kingscliff. In 2005 I took over a role as Academic Liaison Officer at the Riverside campus (Tweed Heads) where I was responsible for a Grad Dip Ed program for future secondary teachers. That role continued till 2008. I especially enjoyed the contact between local and Canadian students who attended the Tweed Gold Coast Campus.. In recent years Leonie returned to the fold in a pastoral care capacity and as a tutor. I have maintained a role as tutor in the Master of Education program, valuing a close association with Professors Martin Hayden and Anne Graham. One of my most gratifying pastimes is keeping in touch with past students.

Dr Neville Jennings

Natalie Johnson with her husbandNatalie Johnson and her husband

My now husband and I, attended Southern Cross University in 2008, with 2009 as our Graduating year. We lived in Coolangatta, Queensland and attended the Tweed Heads Campus, across the border by about 15 minutes, in New South Wales. It was definitely a culture change when we had to adjust our schedules (and watches), to cater to two time-zones…one of the few unique spots in the world that has this feature.

We both completed the Graduate Diploma of Education Courses, headed by our dear friend, and lecturer, Neville Jennings. During our stay in 'Coolie,' as we said, we met several individuals, from various parts of the world. This program combined many cultures: Canadians (this particular year, there were a lot of us!), Australians, New Zealanders, Aborigines, Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, and members of the U.K, just to name a few…

There was also the mentor program, which my husband and I both became members of; it introduced us to a still-dear friend of ours, from Hawaii. We were encouraged to partake in meaningful fellowship with other students, whether it be in intellectual debates during break-out sessions, or on weekend-treks in small, intimate groupings within the mountainside. I discovered my more Eastern and abstract viewpoints on art within the art-curriculum courses, while my husband went a little more specific, with experiences such as his spotting of a rare Blue Crab, at Springbrook National Park. We boogie-boarded with our professor at his house, we fed the homeless on Coolangatta Beach on Christmas Day, we met and spent time with the families of our new international friends, either living locally, or visiting from abroad; we also enjoyed many nights at fellow teachers' houses, discussing the ups and downs of our new future lives as high-school teachers!

We both discovered the love for travelling and experiencing new societies. The diversity that the university offered in terms of student backgrounds and cultures, and the diversity of Australian culture itself, was luring and fascinating in all regards. My husband and I particularly enjoyed learning about, and embracing the customs of Aboriginal culture. We were even allotted the opportunity to experience the Indigenous Dreaming Festival, a celebration of diversity and culture, among many of our peers, and with Neville Jennings as our proud host. We met Australia's lyrical legend, Jimmy Little, only a few years before his passing. What an amazing opportunity, that will stay as a cherished memory for years to come!

After graduating, my husband and I taught in ShenZhen, China, at an International sister-school of Bond Academy in Toronto, Ontario. This experience also allowed us to fully embrace a new culture, to learn a new language, and to teach those with a very different upbringing than our own. Upon our return to Canada, and starting a family, settling down and getting married, we become franchisees of a Sylvan Learning Centre. Since our original purchase of a Sylvan tutoring company, we have expanded to one more centre and several mobile sites. We now reside in Brantford, Ontario, with our three year-old son, Aiden. We attribute many of the qualities that we have obtained over the years, in order to run our educational business successfully, to our teachings and experiences of Southern Cross Uni.

Our experience in general, in Australia, specifically the opportunities that Southern Cross University provided us, will stay in our memories forever. Those heart-warming and adventurous times, helped shape us into the teachers we have become today; all starting with opportunities to grow, change, discover, seek, and create fellowship among a fantastic student body and staff.  Every teaching university has class-time and practical time, but there is simply only one Southern Cross experience!

Natalie Johnson

Julie Kereszteny receiving the Peter Doherty award for being Julie Kereszteny receiving the Peter Doherty award for being "an outstanding teacher of science"

I attended SCU's Tweed Gold Coast Campus in 2006. I had completed my science degree at another university on the Gold Coast. I had a passion for science and the environment but was struggling to find paid work. I had heard and read that there was a demand for science teachers across the country and then saw that SCU were offering a Graduate Diploma (Secondary Education).

Attending the uni was exciting and inspiring. Neville Jennings shared anecdotes from his extensive and passionate teaching career. To inspire an interest in current affairs he invited us to hum the ABC News theme at the start of each lecture. Martin Hayden would fascinate us with facts, issues, assignments and discussions surrounding educational issues like indigenous education and social justice and Mila Jewlachow offered a wealth of knowledge in a nurturing way. The people were the best part of the course. The staff and also the students exhibited a wide range of age, race, teaching speciality areas and life experiences.

After graduating I was registered in both NSW and Qld for teaching positions. Early in January, 2007, I checked the EQ job vacancies and found a one year contract in Cooktown and applied. My first year in Cooktown was really tough. There seemed to be a lot of staff dissatisfaction and it was difficult to get a foundation. Just before the Christmas holidays my permanency was confirmed.

The following year I felt like I was supported in my role and felt as though I had finally found my calling in life… teaching. I stayed at Cooktown for 6 years. Loving the sense of community and knowing that what I did in that school, with curriculum, and also building relationships and trust with students and their families was making a difference. It also provided some great opportunities for professional development which often came with a flight and accommodation either in Cairns or Brisbane.

I won a Peter Doherty award for being "an outstanding teacher of science" and travelled to Brisbane to receive the award and celebrate my achievements. I experienced some fantastic excursions with my Marine and Biology Classes, working with local passionate scientists and community members visiting the wildlife and snorkelling the reef. Staying at the school for 6 years meant I got to be a part of kids starting high school and I was also there when they graduated. We had twelve Year 12 students graduate in 2012. I was invited to contribute to the graduation ceremony with a speech.

I was hoping to transfer to the Tweed Coast at Christmas 2012, with the prospect of the National Curriculum being introduced. I was ahead of the bureaucracy, finding out that NSW isn't introducing national curriculum until next year and being frustrated with the interstate differences. I was transferred to Varsity College. I contacted the school about my transfer before the holidays and was informed they already had enough science teachers. I transferred anyway and am now teaching out of my area of training; mostly teaching maths in one of Queensland's largest schools. I'm now reapplying to teach in NSW or looking to transfer to a Queensland school closer to my home in the Tweed.

I feel blessed to have been taught by such good teachers at university who really led by example, bringing their knowledge and passion to the position, treating every student as an individual with something to offer. This is the philosophy of my teaching: everybody is different but has something to offer.

Julie Kereszteny

Emma Mallon Emma Mallon

I attended Southern Cross University from 2005 until 2009. The course I undertook was the Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Education, specialising in the study of English and History. My first memory of Southern Cross University was as a high school student, stepping onto the Lismore campus for an intensive holiday study program. From the first day, I was filled with a sense of amazement at this new and foreign environment. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced and I couldn't wait to return as a full-time student.

In 2005 I began my combined Bachelor Degree and the reality of university life quickly set in. The expectations of university lit within me a desire to achieve and an awareness of the world around me. Working while studying was always a struggle, but the increasing availability of online courses allowed me to do much of my course at a time convenient for me. In my fourth year following a move to the Gold Coast, the decision to attend the Tweed Campus seemed like a simple one to make. It was in this year that I enjoyed the most memorable experiences of my university life. During 2008 I met my now husband Mac, as well as a gang of truly unique and fun-loving people, that I have formed life-long friendships with. Many of these new friends were Canadian students, arriving in Australia for a year of fun, sun and a little bit of study. This year the reality of soon becoming a teacher was sinking in as we went out into schools and experienced our practicum placements. There were many difficult days and moments of uncertainty but by the end of the year, we had all well and truly caught the teaching bug.

In 2009, I finished my studies at Southern Cross University through online study, while working and living in England and Canada. At the conclusion of the year I returned to the Lismore campus, where my educational journey began, to graduate. Standing amongst the vast number of graduates, I felt very much like I did on that first day, the significance of the weighty moment was evident to all of us; we had finally made it. As I look back on my years at Southern Cross University, it is hard to imagine how different my life would have been, should I have chosen another path. It is hard to imagine life without my wonderful husband and all of the beautiful friends I've made along the way.

I currently work as a High School teacher at Banora Point High School. The knowledge gained during my degree prepared me for a challenging but rewarding career. Although I continue to learn from my mentors, my colleagues and my experiences, I'll never disregard all of the things learnt inside the walls of Southern Cross University.

Missy SimpsonMissy Simpson

I enrolled at SCU's Tweed Heads campus to obtain my Graduate Diploma of Education and become a certified Intermediate/Senior Society and Culture, and Geography teacher in February 2007.

To be honest, categorizing my memories in order to narrow them down to my 'best' is absolutely impossible. On one hand, my 'best' memory could be graduating with the accreditations that have helped me succeed in the career I love. On the other hand, my 'best' memory could be determined by a coin flip of the many personal experiences and friendships I developed while I was an SCU student, and yet if I had a third hand, my 'best' could be the in-class HSIE teachings and practicum mentorship from Peter Wilcox. However, almost 6 years since graduating the one thing that sticks in my head, that resonates in my heart is the automatic acceptance, ever valued guidance from, and the lifelong connection to a wonderful friend and educator Neville Jennings. My time at SCU can't be restricted to a single 'best' memory but Neville has a place at the top of the 'bests' without doubt.

Since returning to Canada I have joined the ranks of certified teachers that do not teach. Well, not in the youth education system sense of the profession anyway. That being said, I am in a learning based role where I partner with corporate leaders to create comprehensive learning and development solutions that positively impact the business and ensure the achievement of strategic objectives, strengthen employee capabilities, contribute to an enriched employee experience, and support talent growth. I am very happy with where I've landed!

My SCU experience is one that I continue to reminisce about and speak of to this day. As a Canadian studying abroad I value each day spent in Australia as it provided me with an educational experience unlike any I would have received at home.

Coincidentally upon my arrival to the "Twin Towns" and prior to finding residency, I met a group of Canadian students (also enrolled in my program) in the hostel where I was living. Despite being from very different areas of my home country, these individuals became my family, my home base, my 'Crazy Canucks' (…an endearing term). This group consisted of my roomie Adj, ½ roomie Brady, Bev and Tosh, and Jerry (aka. Darren) and they were with me through good and bad, funny and frustrating, super scary life events and epic amazing party experiences; I even attended the bachelor party (years after returning home and yes, as a female!) and wedding of one. However, I didn't move ½ way around the world just meet new Canadians, my time at SCU would have been incomplete if I weren't also for the introduction to many others who have enriched my life. I was fortunate enough to explore Sydney with a local, attend 'The Races' as a VIP and was privy to her marriage and most recently the birth of her first born. I've celebrated the successful new business venture and continued family-centric happiness of my 'Byron Baybs' beauty, been informed of the wonderful artistic creations by one, the athletic accomplishments of another, and the family expansion bliss of yet another friend; all of which would not have happened were it not for the time I spent at SCU. I was fortunate enough to meet an amazing Bavarian friend who later played excellent host when I attended Oktoberfest in Germany, and was thrilled to play host myself, welcoming an Australian buddy to Canada on two of our most celebrated holidays.

I could go on and on - and on, but to sum up a long answer to a simple question…my experience at SCU gave me much more than an education - it also gave me a network of friends and experiences both during and after my schooling that have positively shaped the person I am today.

Missy Simpson

Tweed Shire Council

A significant milestone for SCU achieving the milestone of 20 years provision of high quality tertiary education to the residents of our region.

Their commitment through their engagement with other education providers and stakeholders generally ensures that their course offerings are meaningful and relevant as well as meeting the demands of our aspiring graduates.

Tweed Shire's association with the University dates back to almost the beginning and I am confident that our partnership will continue to be productive in the the years ahead.

Cr Barry Longland, Mayor of the Tweed Shire

Tina van Eyk at her graduationTina van Eyk at her graduation

I was one of the students from the 'class of 94' and graduated with a Bachelor of Business (HRM) degree. I recall at the time should I choose the new SCU logo or keep with the University of New England logo? I decided to go with the future. Twenty years later I am working at the SCU Lismore campus after moving back to the region. Over the last few years I have been employed on a number of contracts for the Teaching and Learning team mostly working on online educational related projects.

Thinking back to 92, I did not want to continue with my Bachelor studies in the fields of accounting, law, finance or computing (computing was my favourite subject). I honestly thought about giving up studies after the first semester as the Bachelor of Business course wasn't for me. After discussions with my parents and their support (I was one of the first in my immediate and larger family to obtain a tertiary degree), and after becoming aware of the newly created HRM major I choose to continue. During my course I loved the majority of my subjects particularly training and development, and the organisational communication and behavioural subjects. HRM was where I wanted to contribute to the working world.

In 95 I moved to Brisbane and started work in HR administration for the Criminal Justice Commission. I started at QUT in the late 90s and experienced a variety of HR roles from administration (recruitment, training and development) to project roles based in the HR organisational development team which was where I moved sideways into eLearning. I was passionate about combining learning, HR organisational development and technology and wanted to learn more about how technology could assist adults to continue to learn and work flexibly. Over the years my working journey has given me the opportunity to continue working in the online education, eLearning, learning design and teaching and learning fields for a variety of industries including adult education (tertiary and vocational), photographic, banking and superannuation, workers' compensation, and the agricultural and veterinary industries. In 2009 I graduated as a Master of Online Education with USQ. My work experience and studies have enabled me to contribute to a book and write a chapter in 2009 titled "Finding the Right Online Learning Connections: Comparing Models in Practice".

That decision very early in my tertiary studies, back in 92 to continue with my Bachelor studies has led me to where I am today. I am very happy that I chose to continue as it gave me the foundation (although I didn't know it back then) to move throughout my working career from general HR administration and recruitment, to specialise in training and development and HR organisational development, and to specialise even further into online education and learning design.

Tina van Eyk

Mitch WileyMitch Wiley

When and what did I study:

2003 - 2005 Bachelor of Business Administration

Strongest memory at SCU:

The accessibility of the academic staff and the friendships I still have today.

My Career:

After graduating I moved to Melbourne and became Marketing Manager of Team Mitsubishi Ralliart. I am now the National Retail Communications Manager for Mitsubishi Motors Australia and live in Adelaide.

How has the University Experience Influenced My Life:

It showed me the importance of education, having an open mind and to never stop learning.

Mitch Wiley