Young Alumnus of the Year
"I'm a storyteller, and when I hear from a reader that something has resonated with them, it just makes it all so worthwhile.”
Miranda Luby or how to square the circle. It seems that Miranda, Southern Cross University’s 2023 Young Alumnus of the Year, has managed to solve the problem: she has blended leisure and work, passion and duty, altruism and profit in what seems the ultimate and perfect balance.
“I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the world, on Victoria’s Surf Coast. I work from home so when I get up one of the first things I do is go and check the surf, since I’m a bodyboarder. If the surf's good, I love to jump in the water. I find connecting with nature really grounding and meditative and it's helpful for the creative process.”
Miranda is a journalist, an author and a copywriter.
As a journalist, she writes for publications like the BBC, The Guardian and Australian Geographic, often stories about endangered animals or conservation issues, which is one of her passions.
This passion for conservation follows when Miranda wears her author hat. “As a writer, it's important for me to tell stories about issues that I'm really passionate about; my work generally involves telling stories about two things, mental health and conservation. When it comes to mental health, I write a lot about perfectionism and disordered eating, black and white thinking, things that are affecting a lot of people these days, particularly teenagers.”
Miranda released her first book in 2022. ‘Sadie Starr’s Guide to Starting Over’ is a novel for teenagers about a 16-year-old girl who struggles with her mental health (perfectionism and disordered eating).
Not only does Miranda write about mental health but she talks about it, too. “I visit schools and talk to teenagers about these issues. I find connecting with teenagers in that way is truly rewarding, and they often say they now feel they can be more open about talking about these issues.”
Again, conservation is prominent in Miranda’s work as a copywriter. “I love helping not-for-profit conservation organisations, such as Trust for Nature, which is Victoria-based, connect with their audiences in a way that really resonates.”
Miranda studied Media and Communications distance at Southern Cross University. “I was very supported by the University throughout the whole degree. The course gave me the confidence I needed to move on to a Masters in Journalism and then the rest of my career.”
Volunteering also plays a key role in Miranda’s life. “Throughout my career, I've volunteered both my copywriting work and my time for various charitable organisations like the Geelong Community Foundation and also worked at animal sanctuaries such as Edgar's Mission. I just think it's important to give back when I can with my skills as a writer and also my passion for conservation and animals.”
Talking about future goals, Miranda’s short-term one is the release of her second book, which is inspired by her time working for Zoos Victoria. Other than that? Keep writing, that’s for sure.
“What I find most rewarding about being a writer is when my stories genuinely connect with my reader. Whether that's a 16-year-old girl who messages me on Instagram saying that she saw herself in one of my characters and felt less alone, or whether it's spreading the word about a conservation issue or helping raise money for that conservation issue, it's when my stories connect with people.”
“That's what it's all about, right? I'm a storyteller, and when I hear from a reader that something has resonated with them, it just makes it all so worthwhile.”
2023 Alumni Impact Award Recipients
Alumnus of the Year, Ben Newton OAM
After graduating from Southern Cross in 2010 with a Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours, Ben went on to win a gold medal at the 2012 summer Paralympics and was honoured with an Order of Australia Medal in 2014. Ben now works as the Queensland Paralympics High Performance & Development Coach (Wheelchair Rugby) where nurtures talent and inclusivity within the sport.Learn more about Ben
Young Alumnus of the Year, Miranda Luby (dual recipient)
Nominated as an award-winning author, journalist, and copywriter, Miranda’s work spans renowned publications to inspiring novels, showcasing her passion for mental health and conservation issues. A role model for young adults, she inspires and empowers through her talks and workshops where her dedication to community service and impactful storytelling shines through.Learn more about Miranda
Young Alumnus of the Year, Dr Cooper Schouten (dual recipient)
Cooper has completed three degrees including a PhD at Southern Cross. He is the Director of Bees for Sustainable Livelihoods research group and oversees several programs promoting education, research and capacity-building within beekeeping industries in Pacific Island partner countries and Australia. He also teaches into the Regenerative Agriculture program at the University.Learn more about Cooper
International Alumnus of the Year, Dr Sara Shashaani
Completing her Bachelor of Applied Computing at Southern Cross in 2010, Sara is an esteemed researcher in climate-induced learning and prediction. As Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University, she aims to contribute to sustainable solutions and support vulnerable communities.Learn more about Sara
Early Career Alumnus of the Year, Mitch Lavelle
Mitch is a mechanical engineer at Gilmour Space Technologies, leading provider of Australian-made launch vehicles and satellite platforms. The company is on track to launch its Eris rockets and G-class satellite platforms into Low Earth Orbits soon and Mitch is the responsible engineer for the first stage main tank, as well as the entire second stage of the Eris Block 1 vehicle.Learn more about Mitch
Community Impact Alumnus of the Year, Evangeline Wood
Evangeline recently completed a Bachelor of Laws with Honours and is also a volunteer firefighter and Founder and President of Coolamon Community, a group dedicated to connecting Aboriginal mothers with culturally safe healthcare. Evie started Coolamon Community in 2021 and the group has since delivered more than 400 Coolamon cribs to First Nations mothers.Learn more about Evangeline