View all news

A double degree, new job and trip to India for Kate


Zoe Satherley
20 September 2006
Southern Cross University student Kate McFarlane has every reason to be jumping for joy this week – she has just scored an astonishing quinella.

Not only will this bright and vivacious young woman graduate on Saturday with a double degree, but she has already scored a top job in the public service and been selected as a youth ambassador to India.

On Saturday Kate (pictured) will join 670 graduands, 16 Doctor of Philosophy and eight Doctor of Business Administration recipients, at graduation ceremonies for students from the faculties of Art, Health and Applied Sciences and Business.

Kate will be the graduate speaker at the 9am ceremony, being held in the Whitebrook Theatre at the University’s Lismore campus.

After nearly six years of hard slog, graduating from her Bachelor of Social Science and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degrees feels exhilarating, Kate said.

But Kate is also celebrating the added double bonus of being recently offered a coveted place in the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations graduate program, in Canberra, at a brilliant starting salary, as well as being selected in the highly competitive Australian Volunteers International Youth Challenge Australia program.

Under the youth scheme, Kate will travel to Southern India for 10 weeks from early December with a joint Australian-Indian team of 18 – 28-year-olds who will work with a rural development organisation in remote villages.

Kate is using her savings to fund the trip, hoping she will be able to use the experience and contacts gained as a springboard to eventually gain paid work in the field of international aid abroad.

“This is an enormous challenge and one which I can’t get in Australia,” she said. “I am more than happy to pay my own costs because I will learn a lot about myself, about international aid issues and about team building. It will also help me decide if this is really the career path I want to follow and hopefully make it easier to gain other placements overseas in the future.”

Kate was the recipient of a Vice-Chancellor’s scholarship when she enrolled at Southern Cross University in 2001 after completing her HSC at Richmond River High School in Lismore.

“I wasn’t sure that I would stay in Lismore and thought I might move to a larger metropolitan university after the first year or two,” she said.

“But when I compared notes with my friends who were studying at these bigger universities, it became clear that I was getting an equally interesting and relevant educational experience and much more interaction and support from my lecturers.

“I found I could pick and choose courses I found intellectually stimulating and those which had a social justice slant. There was a lot of room to follow my personal interests and passions.

“And I found many of my lecturers to be the most inspiring role models you could ever hope to study under. They were people I could respect and learn from and with whom I could engage in really rigorous and deep debate.

“They each had strong social justice values and that really resonated with me and what I wanted to achieve in the world.

“They encouraged me to follow my passion for international politics, human rights, community service and gender issues. I just loved pretty much everything about what I was studying.

“Another good thing about studying at Southern Cross University was that I could live at home, which I loved. It meant I was under less stress during my studies and I was able to save a lot of the money I earned from my part-time jobs to pay for my upcoming travel to India.

“The last five-and-a-half years here at Uni have been great and it is hard to get my head around the fact that I will be gone in a couple of months. It’s all so sudden and a bit overwhelming, but also very exciting.”

Media photo opportunity
The following graduation ceremonies will be held in the Whitebrook Theatre on Saturday, September 23:
9am: Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences; occasional address given by Mr Marcus Blackmore AM, executive chairman, Blackmores Ltd.
11.30am: Faculty of Business; occasional address given by Mr Neil Black BScAgr(Syd), DipEd(Tech)(Syd CAE), HortCert(Hons)(SydTC).