Ready to swap graduation cap and gown for nursing scrubs

Published 9 September 2022
A man leaning against marine tanks. Dr Peter Butcherine at the National Marine Science Centre.

Southern Cross University graduates will be answering the call for more health workers at the upcoming Coffs Harbour graduation ceremonies.

More than half of the graduands are from the Faculty of Health, a majority of which are being awarded a Bachelor of Nursing. A total of 164 graduands will receive their testamurs across two ceremonies on Saturday 10 September.

After a 30-year career as a motorcycle mechanic, Jason Schaap, 51, needed a change and was convinced by a friend to study nursing.

“My friend saw it was what I needed and she was 100 per cent right,” Jason said.

“I never finished school and getting back into education was an absolute revelation. I ended up loving it.”

Jason is now working at Coffs Harbour Health Campus as a medical ward nurse through the Mid North Coast Local Health District graduate program.

He encourages everyone who is interested to study nursing.

“There’s a huge need for nurses in all fields of healthcare,” Jason said.

Jason said it was exciting to be donning a graduation cap (known as a mortarboard) and gown.

“It’s a bit surreal. I think it’s one of those key pivotal moments in your life, getting a degree.”

A number of graduates from the National Marine Science Centre, located at Coffs Harbour, will also be recognised.

Dr Peter Butcherine will officially receive his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) for research into the impacts of pesticides on prawns.

Dr Butcherine’s thesis has since been published in four journals, and used to set pesticide thresholds in the European Union.

His research results showed that prawns are susceptible to a commonly used insecticide and exposure can impact food safety and reduce the productivity of prawn aquaculture.

Dr Butcherine is now employed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Southern Cross University in partnership with the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program which aims to alleviate the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.

“I want to get out into the world and make a difference. I will never say no to a challenge,” he said.

Dr Butcherine was a teacher and then worked in the IT industry for more than 20 years before deciding to delve more deeply into a career in science. He studied a Bachelor of Environmental Science and then a Bachelor of Science with Honours (First Class) with Southern Cross before undertaking doctoral research (PhD).

Dr Butcherine said this graduation, in particular, represented the culmination of a long journey.

“It’s a validation of a lot of hard work and effort that many people have put into my education, particularly my supervisors and supportive family.”

Honorary Doctorate for Warren Grimshaw AM

Southern Cross University will recognise the former Executive Director of the Coffs Harbour Education Campus, Warren Grimshaw AM, at the graduation event. Mr Grimshaw will be conferred the award of Honorary Doctor of the University.

Mr Grimshaw has held numerous positions including Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Ministry of Education and Youth Affairs and President of the NSW Board of Studies. He has also served as a Member of the Southern Cross University Council and Chair of the Mid North Coast Local Health District Board.

The graduation ceremonies will take place on Saturday 10 September at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus.

Media contact: Sharlene King, media office at Southern Cross University 0429 661 349 or