The Hon. Poto Williams MP 2018 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year
Munokoa Poto Williams is the sitting member for Christchurch East and Assistant Speaker for the NZ House of Representatives and can boast a long line of firsts, including being the first female Cook Islander to be elected as an MP. Poto initially got politically active by making submissions on family violence and child welfare issues, which she has a strong and personal interest in. She has worked tirelessly in the community sector, including working as the CEO of a women’s refuge serving 1900 clients every year and as a member of the NZ Community Child Protection Review Panel. She is also the Vice Chair of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians and spearheaded a mentoring program for Women MP’s across the Pacific. Poto graduated with a Master of Business Administration in 2010.
Guido van Helten 2018 Young Alumnus of the Year
Guido graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Art in 2008. He is internationally acclaimed for his large scale photo realistic work. Of breathtaking proportions, his artworks adorn large walls within Australia and in countries as diverse as the Ukraine, Mexico, Iceland and the USA. Guido’s curriculum vitae includes 50 large scale commissioned works across the globe. In 2017 alone, Guido completed six large projects, following an astounding twelve international commissions in 2016, spread across eight nations. In 2018 he completed the large scale figures on the Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus.
Ben Howling 2018 School of Arts and Social Sciences Alumnus of the Year
The 2018 School of Arts and Social Sciences Alumnus of the Year graduated from a Bachelor of Multimedia in 2008 and has worked as a producer, cinematographer, editor and director on flagship reality TV shows such as X Factor, Australia’s Got Talent, and Shark Tank, as well as Films including Jungle, A Means to an End and The Puppet.
In 2012, he co-directed Tropfest finalist short film, Cargo which by 2018 had been viewed over 14 million times on Youtube! Cargo was remade as a 2017 Netflix feature length film starring Martin Freeman.
Peter Fowler 2018 School of Business and Tourism Alumnus of the Year
The winner of the 2018 School of Business and Tourism Alumnus of the Year graduated with a Bachelor of Accounting from Southern Cross University in 2001, and Master of Business Administration in 2014. He is a Partner at Collins Hume and has been named a CPA Australia INTHEBLACK 40 Young Business Leader. He has featured in ‘The World’s Most Inspiring Accountants’ and co-authored Better Business, Better Life, Better World’. In May 2017 he was awarded Partner of the Year in front of industry peers.
Karen Rantissi 2018 School of Education Alumnus of the Year
The 2018 School of Education Alumnus of the Year winner graduated with a Master of Education in 2015, following her completion of a Bachelor of Education in 2006 and a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) in 1994. A working teacher, she is a passionate advocate for arts and literacy, and has developed a number of highly successful arts-based learning and professional development programs. Her nationally renowned ‘How to get a picture to tell 1000 words’ program, using artworks to stimulate creative writing, was successfully introduced into The Northern Rivers Community Gallery in 2017, increasing educational excursions by an amazing 3650%.
Sangeeta Mangubhai 2018 School of Environment, Science and Engineering Alumnus of the Year
The 2018 School of Environment, Science and Engineering Alumnus of the Year graduated with a PhD in 2007. She is an Australian-Fijian coral reef ecologist with 18 years of environmental management experience in the South Pacific, Indonesia, East Africa and Australia. Since completing her PhD, she has worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji Country Program in Suva.
Tennyson Strong 2018 Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples Alumnus of the Year
The 2018 Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples Alumnus of the Year is an Intensive Family Preservation Worker at the Family Support Network in Lismore. He is a Jukembal man on his father’s side, Gumbagirri/Bundjalung on his mother’s.
He enjoys giving back to the community voluntarily at local Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander events.
Ben Newton OAM 2018 School of Health and Human Sciences Alumnus of the Year
The 2018 School of Health and Human Sciences Alumnus of the Year graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) in 2010, and is the Accessibility Strategist for Queensland Rail. A Gold Medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games where he was part of the winning wheelchair rugby team and recipient of an Order of Australia in 2014.
Johanna Byrne 2018 School of Law and Justice Alumnus of the Year
Johanna graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 2017. She was recognised as the 2016 National Indigenous Law Student of the Year for her passion and commitment to improving justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Now a solicitor in Tasmania, Johanna continues to mentor Indigenous law students while working to establish a Legal Clinic at the University – a proposal she advanced while a student. She is the co-chair of the Indigenous Committee and Tasmanian State Convenor for the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights. Johanna is currently revising text for the Kluwers International Encyclopaedia of Laws. She is also a single mother to seven children after tragically losing her husband during her studies.
Victoria Rodriguero Yamauti Suzuki 2018 SCU College Alumnus
The 2018 SCU College Alumnus of the Year graduated with a Diploma in Business in 2017 and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Information Technology. She has a strong interest in arts and is working towards a career as a game designer. She is also an active student ambassador of Southern Cross University.
Karen Loader 2018 The Hotel School Alumnus of the Year
The 2018 Hotel School Alumnus of the Year has a passion for travel and hospitality. While on holiday she encountered the conservation company UnEarth International. Motivated and moved by its work in 2014 she resigned from her job and moved to South Africa. Unearth currently has a lease for a big game reserve bordering the Kruger National Park to provide ecotourism services. Unearth’s first project will create 1200 permanent jobs and approximately 2600 unskilled casual jobs. In 2016 she established Unearth Experience, an experiential based travel company to provide tailored itineraries for individuals and businesses.
Bella Zanesco 2018 Vice Chancellor's Alumnus of the Year
Bella graduated with a Bachelor of Business in 1997. After what she calls a spectacular corporate career burnout, Bella reinvented herself as a wellbeing and transformation consultant to major corporations while penning a bestselling book about life and career fulfilment, Smart Girls Screw Up Too: the no-nonsense guide to creating the life you want. She delivers a wellbeing course called Inspired Reset, aimed at assisting female executives to avoid the same career and health burnout she experienced, and works as a life and career coach.
Vavine Nadesalingam 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year
Vavine graduated with a Bachelor of Business in 2003. She was the Associate Director of Southern Cross University’s partner institution in Papua New Guinea, the Institute of Business Studies, until 2015, when she started her own ISP business, rolling out internet to rural areas. She was the first PNG selected to attend the 2016 Global Entrepreneur Summit in San Francisco. She also founded the Voices for Villages Foundation, which addresses education, health, water and power issues for villages. She advocates for youth empowerment and has run secondary school debating competitions since 2009 – thanks to her efforts, PNG will participate for the first time in the World School Debate Championship in Croatia this year.
Sanjay Bhatia 2018 International Alumnus of the Year
The 2018 International Alumnus of the Year is an Officer of the Indian Administrative Service, Government of India, (Maharashtra Cadre). Presently holding posts as Chairman Mumbai Port Trust, Chairman and Indian Ports Association. He has been awarded a number of awards.