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Alumnus recognised in Queensland awards


Zuleika Henderson
28 October 2010
Southern Cross University alumnus Julie Kereszteny has been awarded a 2010 Peter Doherty Outstanding Teachers of Science Award.

The Queensland awards, which recognise outstanding and innovative contributions to science and science education, were presented to the winners by Queensland Minister for Education and Training Geoff Wilson at a recent ceremony in Brisbane.

Julie, who graduated from Southern Cross University four years ago with a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary), was awarded $5000 in prize money to continue her work providing innovative science teaching to young people at Cooktown State School in north Queensland.

Julie said the she was delighted to receive the award.

“When I found out I’d won I was overwhelmed at first and in a bit of shock, but after that I was just really proud - it’s so nice to have your work acknowledged,” said Julie.

“I’ve been involved in a lunchtime science club for primary students which has had some really positive feedback and I like to find lots of real science-based activities for the students to get involved in.

“I’ve found scientists in the community to work with who are very passionate and we’ve done projects like before and after studies on keeping feral pigs out of protected areas and setting up wildlife corridors.

“I enjoy supporting other teachers with ideas for science teaching and we often mix classes with the younger and older students to look at topics like environmental conservation.

“It’s not just an award for me, the students deserve it too because it’s their enthusiasm I share and am inspired by.”

Professor Peter Doherty was Australian of the Year in 1997. He and his Swiss colleague Rolf Zinkernagel were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1996 for discovering the nature of cellular immune defence.

The Peter Doherty Awards are aimed at encouraging more Queenslanders to pursue careers in science, engineering and technology and were this year awarded to 27 students, teachers and organisations.

Julie said her studies at SCU had prepared her well for her work as a science teacher.

“I have always loved science and conservation and wanted to save the world but it wasn’t paying well, so I decided to train as a teacher because it was a way for me to be with my family while still having a positive influence on all those young minds,” said Julie.

“I had excellent lecturers who believed in me, which made all the difference while I was trying to juggle studying with work and family.

“I’m planning on using the prize money from the award to travel to the States to learn more about how they use Indigenous knowledge in schools because I think there are opportunities to embed our own Indigenous perspectives into the existing science curriculum.

“I’m really proud of the work I am doing with these kids and it’s great to see the school recognised too.”

Photo: Julie Kereszteny with Peter Doherty at the awards ceremony in Brisbane (high resolution image available on request)