Student Excellence Awards

Congratulations to our 2023 finalists

Meet our finalists
masthead slide

Celebrating our outstanding students

The Southern Cross University Student Excellence Awards recognise outstanding students who have distinguished themselves in the areas of leadership, volunteering, community engagement and sport. Winners of the 2023 Student Excellence Awards will be announced at a presentation held at the Lismore campus and live streamed on SCU Facebook.

Portrait of Vice Chancellor Tyrone Carlin

A message from the Vice Chancellor

Professor Tyrone Carlin

The annual Southern Cross University Student Excellence Awards acknowledge our students' contribution to leadership, volunteering, sporting life, and arts at SCU, and their contribution to university and community engagement. 2023 will be our 15th year of acknowledging these significant student contributions. I wish all nominees the very best and congratulate them on enhancing the student experience and fostering positive change.

2023 Student Excellence Award winners

Olivia Noffke, Bachelor of Psychological Science, 2023 Student of the Year

Olivia has demonstrated academic excellence and an outstanding care for her community. She is the recipient of a National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine Research Futures Scholarship, works as a research assistant and is involved in University Governance as a Student Council Member. She has shown dedication to helping others through various roles in community organisations, including as a Residential Youth Worker for Aspire Hub, a Youth Worker for Life Without Barriers and as a private support worker.

Student standing in nursing lab

Oriana Watts, Bachelor of Social Work

Oriana showed a strong dedication to helping others during her social work placement with North Coast Settlement Services in Coffs Harbour. She went above and beyond to support recently settled refugee community members, developing innovative programs and demonstrating her advocacy both within and outside of her placement hours, overcoming language barriers and complex issues.

Student standing

Binqiang (Johnny) Zhang, Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying)

Binqiang (Johnny) is an active member of the University community and is involved in various committees. He fosters a sense of community and inclusivity, both on and off-campus, through his volunteer work including beach clean-ups, support for LGBTQ+ causes, and his commitment to social justice, diversity and community engagement.

johnny is standing on the beach ready to collect rubbish

John Palencia, Bachelor of Nursing

John is a leader in the student nursing community. He spearheads an online platform for Southern Cross nursing students. His passion for health extends beyond university, volunteering for St John Ambulance and working as an Assistant Nurse in an acute mental health setting. As a 2023 Regional Youth Taskforce member, he influences policy-makers and advocated for the expansion of the Coffs Harbour Health Precinct.

John standing in nursing lab

Chloe Dunemann, Bachelor of Education

With over 375 hours of volunteering and eight years of service under her belt, Chloe has shown active community involvement as a member of Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club. Chloe is Head Coach of Nippers and has received numerous accolades. She also works as a Youth Development Officer and coordinates events such as the Gold Coast Youth Development Camp. Chloe was named Young Person of the Year for Coolangatta at the State Member for Parliament’s Community Champion Awards.

Chloe in surf lifesaving uniform at the beach
Marian Bailey portrait

Meet our previous award winners

Discover our incredible past award winners who have distinguished themselves in the areas of leadership, volunteering, community engagement and sport.

Meet our past winners