Choosing a university degree is a moment you’ll always remember. It might be the start of a study journey and a career you had not even imagined. It might be where you meet ideas and people who will take your life in a completely new and exciting direction.
But don’t listen to us. Listen to the people who have already been there.
Emily Page | Bachelor of Media
Media graduate Emily Page completed her degree in Lismore and says the Northern Rivers region – that has one of the highest concentrations of media professionals in the country – is a fertile ground to begin a career in media.
“Before moving here, I never realised there were so many creative people in one area,” she says. As part of her studies, Emily completed a training program with the 2018 Commonwealth Games broadcaster and took advantage of numerous opportunities offered through Northern Rivers industry association and University partner Screenworks.
“The opportunities included a paid internship as Production Office Attachment and Runner on Deadlock, a web drama series which screened on the ABC. “This experience helped me bridge the gap between being a student filmaker to a professional.”
Project Lead Product and Service Design at Feros Care
Layla Buckley | Bachelor of Business, Bachelor of Laws
Layla co-leads three pilot projects at Feros Care, aimed at assisting seniors to remain independent at home longer, to manage their chronic conditions, and to stay connected with the community.
“I love driving positive change and working towards embedding technology in people-care services. Nothing can fully prepare you for the reality of your career, but studying business and putting my learning into practice at Feros Care really solidified my career,” says Layla.
“I’m very proud of my university! I recommend it to everyone. I love that Southern Cross stands for its community, and openly supports and encourages diversity and inclusion... and the focus on the environment. It’s a very forward thinking university!”
Layla and her colleagues were finalists at the 2019 Social Media Marketing Awards, read about their Fearless Films project.
Election Commissioner of India
Ashok Lavasa | Master of Business Administration
Ashok is currently the appointed Election Commissioner of India, having served, over a 37-year career, as India’s Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and Secretary of Civil Aviation.
As Environment Secretary, Ashok led India’s official team to negotiate the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as well as the Montreal Protocol and the Conventions on Biodiversity and Desertification.
As one of the country’s three election commissioners, Ashok oversaw the push for greater electoral participation in the Indian general election in May 2019, which resulted in unprecedented numbers of women, people with disabilities and transgender voters. Read more about Ashok Lavasa’s remarkable career.
Senior accountant at KPMG Australia
Lisa Mizeko | Bachelor of Business | Bachelor of Laws
Lisa Mizeko completed study tours and exchanges to the top financial centres in Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore and China as part of a double degree in law and business. The breadth of her international experience has proved invaluable to her current role as an external auditor with multinational firm KPMG.
“In Singapore, I was amazed to see how so many cultures lived together and were very aware of each other. It really changed the way I viewed the world,” she says.
Although she is currently pursuing a career as a chartered accountant, Lisa says that law is closely related to her work in auditing and reporting. “Law taught me how to think critically. I may not be working as a lawyer but my law studies definitely inform my thinking.”
Read more about a double degree in Business and Law.
Managing director at Humanihut
Neale Sutton | Master of Professional Management
Alumnus of the Year 2019
Neale is the managing director of Humanihut, providing lightweight, robust emergency shelters for international humanitarian and other purposes.
Neale co-founded Humanihut in 2013, after being deployed as a Military Observer to the UN Transitional Authority in East Timor where he controlled the repatriation of refugees from West to East Timor. Pictured is Neale (left) with Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker.
“The skills I developed completing my Masters at Southern Cross continue to provide the framework I apply to my professional endeavours and has shaped many of my decisions and solutions to the commercial challenges I face as an entrepreneur,” Neale said. Read more about the global impact Neale Sutton is creating with Humanihut.
Head of program design and delivery at Slingshot
Bella Zanesco | Bachelor of Business
Vice Chancellor’s Award 2018
After what Bella calls a spectacular corporate career burnout, she 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.
Bella has delivered $5 billion in new revenues to forward-thinking companies, was labelled ‘the best high-performance coach we’ve engaged’ by Google and donates 10 per cent of her time to support young girls to find their upside in Kenya’s Kibera slum. Read more about Bella Zanesco's inspiring story.
Scrum Master at Cupid Media
Jennifer Doherty | Bachelor of Information Technology
Jennifer had never really thought of herself as a technical person, but after years of working in administrative roles she decided to retrain in IT.
Her role as Scrum Master at Cupid Media, an international online dating company, is multifaceted. It includes facilitating ‘scrum’ ceremonies for planning and process review across the organisation, demos for major IT projects, business analysis, data collection and analysis, and researching emerging technologies.
“I studied my IT degree online and fast tracked it by taking advantage of the University’s three-session academic calendar,” says Jennifer.
“As a mature student and also a woman studying IT, I was always working to prove to myself that I belonged, but the support I received at Southern Cross really helped to make me feel welcome,” says Jennifer about the Women in Technology program that provides dedicated support for women entering this industry.
Mathematics teacher at South Grafton High School
Holly Millican | Bachelor of Arts | Bachelor of Education (Primary/Secondary)
Alumnus of the Year 2019
If it takes becoming a rising YouTube star to get students interested in maths, Holly Millican isn’t afraid.
“Maths doesn’t need to feel like an ominous hour-long period that students dread,” says Holly.
The Southern Cross Education and Arts graduate, currently completing a Master of Education, teaches at South Grafton High School.
Her first video, showing some of the ingenious ways she makes maths fun won a prestigious state prize that gave her the opportunity to work with the maths teacher and YouTube personality, Eddie Woo.
It also kickstarted her emerging YouTube channel inspiring other maths teachers.
Primary school teacher at Kororo Public School
Nathan Portelli | Bachelor of Arts | Bachelor of Education (Primary)
The word 'champion' might make Nathan Portelli blush, yet the Southern Cross Education graduate is no ordinary footballer.
Nathan has played semi-professional football and represented Southern Cross in the Queensland Universities Rugby League team.
Now, his passion is teaching at Kororo Public School on the Coffs Harbour coast, a highlight of which is helping students build a robot and compete with school children worldwide in Australia’s FIRST LEGO League.
“Footballers can be nerds too!” jokes Nathan. “There’s nothing better than turning a child’s average day into an amazing day with just a few little comments. That’s so powerful.”
Project engineer at Ardill Payne & Partners
Lisa Hansberry | Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Civil Engineering
From yoga instructor to the worlds of engineering and construction, Lisa Hansberry’s two careers are more similar than most would think.
“With engineering, we’re working with different materials to create effective and harmonious objects and structures for our cities and those who live in them,” says Lisa, who is a Project Engineer at Ardill, Payne & Partners, founding president of the Southern Cross University Engineering Society, president of the Northern Rivers Group of the Engineers Australia, Newcastle Division, and Newcastle Division Committee Member.
“Similarly, yoga is all about connection. And in both careers, each day provides something interesting to work on, and people to collaborate with."
Environmental engineer at ENV Solutions
“Leave this world in a better state than I found it,” is Jake Rozyn’s life mantra, and as the Co-Director and Environmental Engineer with ENV Solutions in Ballina, Jake and his team are working on just that.
Jake is an expert in waste management, which may not sound glamorous, but developing solutions to real world problems is.
“The world is currently at a tipping point,” Jake says. The Engineering graduate specialises in sustainable methods of reusing the many materials humans discard daily.
“Engineering students can be at the forefront of ensuring the planet is in good shape for their generation and future generations.”
Rehabilitation coach at Brisbane Broncos
Blake Duncan | Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science
When Blake Duncan knew he would not make it as a young rugby player, he chose the next best thing: training elite athletes.
“I think I’ve got the best job in the world,” says Blake, now the Rehab Strengthening and Conditioning Coach of the Brisbane Broncos.
“For me, it’s the pinnacle of sport and that’s exciting. The challenge is making sure that everything I do is 100% because I’m working with athletes who need to be at their best.”
It’s a dream career, making his beloved sport his life. And, he confesses, “I don’t miss waking up sore on Mondays!”
Emergency room nurse at Queensland Health
Katie East | Bachelor of Nursing
The sun has barely risen most days before Katie East hits the road to one of her many roles – as a nurse practitioner candidate at Brisbane’s Redlands Emergency Department, a clinical nurse at Gold Coast Emergency Department and as an emergency nurse at Southport Watchhouse treating prisoners in custody.
Before leaving, she walks the dog and may even surf. “Work-life balance is important,” says Katie, for on top of all that, she holds several roles within the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia and travels around Australia teaching trauma to nurses.
“Nursing has given me the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I wake up every morning excited.”
Head strength and conditioning coach at All Blacks
Dr Nic Gill | PhD Exercise Physiology
The secret to Dr Nic Gill’s success is… “stick to the basics.” His career, however is anything but.
'Gilly', as he’s known, has been the head strength and conditioning coach for New Zealand’s All Blacks for “a wee while” of 11 years, and when he’s not training a team of grown men on the world’s playing fields, he’s competing in Ironman Australia events, lecturing as the Associate Professor of Human Performance at the University of Waikato or spending time among his family’s avocado orchard – growing avocados and kiwifruit are his 'basic' passions.
“Stick to the basics and do them better than anyone else is doing,” Gilly says.
Director and occupational therapist at Empowered Kids
Kristy Harris | Bachelor of Occupational Therapy
“If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s to think outside the square,” says Kristy Harris, founder of Empowered Kids, who pursued her Southern Cross Bachelor of Occupational Therapy as a mother of two girls – a number that became three while she was a full-time student.
“I’ve seen something I’m passionate in and I’ve pursued it and through that, I’ve connected with my own kids as well as my business helping kids,” Kristy says.
“To see a child who has significant challenges work really, really hard and overcome them and pursue a bright future, that’s what excites me.”
Nurse and Midwife at Tweed Hospital
Ashleigh Woods | Bachelor of Nursing
From an early age, Ashleigh knew she wanted to be a nurse and a midwife; since graduating her career is going from strength to strength.
Now accredited in Advanced Life Support, Ashleigh works in the resuscitation room of The Tweed Hospital’s Emergency Department; and on a casual basis as a midwife at the hospital’s Women’s Care Unit providing care to women before and after giving birth.
Ashleigh says she entered the hospital workplace with confidence thanks to the lab classes at Southern Cross, practising skills in a setting that was safe and where she could ask lots of questions.
“I was always amazed by how realistic the scenarios were, using the simulation dolls and other equipment. There was pretty much no equipment I was unfamiliar with by the time I entered the clinical setting.” says Ashleigh. Read more about Ashleigh’s experience studying nursing.
Osteopath at Newcastle Osteopathy
Bec Woods | Bachelor of Clinical Science | Master of Osteopathic Medicine
For Bec Woods, 'The Glow' — that little voice that says, there, that’s it, that’s why you’re here — once came when surfing, which she did competitively for nine years on the World Tour.
She attributes her enduring career to an osteopath who helped her through a potential career-ending injury early on. This led her to osteopathy at Southern Cross University.
“It’s amazing to have knowledge and techniques that can help transform the lives of people who live with pain,” she says, now in her first year at a Newcastle Osteopathy practice and getting the glow every time a patient meets their healing goals.
Family preservation worker at Family Support Network
Tennyson Strong | Bachelor of Indigenous Studies
A love of history and a fascination with leaders who had orchestrated world-changing events, coupled with a desire to know more about the history of his own people, made the Bachelor of Indigenous Studies a natural academic choice for Tennyson Strong.
The Southern Cross graduate says the degree offered diverse career opportunities both during and after his studies. “The door was wide open to go into child protection, out-of-home care, family support, education, paralegal work and business studies.”
Not all families are able to access information to solve problems so I bring the knowledge to the home. I help build parenting capacity and I work with the children to meet their milestones – whether they are educational, medical, social or emotional. It’s very satisfying work. I’m doing something different every single day.”
Read more about Tennyson and where he is taking his career.
Solicitor at Rae & Partners Lawyers
Johanna Byrne | Bachelor of Laws
Johanna Byrne knows love. Once a florist – a career of passion and empathy – Johanna experienced the sudden loss of her husband in 2014, leaving her a single mother to seven children.
Amid it all, she left floristry and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2017, quickly becoming an essential figure in the Australian legal system.
After working roles in Legal Aid then corporate law, Johanna was appointed the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights’ State Convenor for Tasmania and the National Indigenous co-chair. “Law is a people profession,” says Johanna.
“I can help people in a different way than what I was doing with flowers.”
Read more about Johanna and her legal career.
Special counsel at Susan Moriarty & Associates
Benedict Coyne | Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Benedict Coyne’s thriving career is inspired by a dedication to human rights, and environmental and social justice. “Law is a fascinating, complex and multifaceted profession,” Coyne says.
“There are many opportunities to stand up and help to protect the lives of the vulnerable, from marginalised and powerless peoples to threatened ecosystems.”
Benedict recently served as National President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, after graduating in 2016 with Distinction from a Master of Studies in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford, UK, building on his Bachelor of Laws from Southern Cross, from which he graduated with Honours, the University Medal and other academic awards.
Solicitor at Kay & Hughes Art & Entertainment Lawyers
Thomas Lynch | Bachelor of Contemporary Music | Bachelor of Laws
Thomas – Tom – Lynch is the sort of rock star you’d want to end up in the courtroom with.
The passionate yet humble drummer and self-confessed ‘garage producer’ is a solicitor with Kay & Hughes Entertainment Lawyers in Sydney.
He spends his days helping artists of all kinds navigate the colourful life of being a creative who makes a living.
“Law touches every aspect of our lives and I love helping to arm artists with the tools they need to be sure that their work is valued and protected,” says Tom. In his ‘spare’ time, Tom now lectures in Media Law at the Australian Institute of Music.
Motion graphic designer at Projection Teknik
Rose Staff | Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours
Rose Staff’s installations are a gorgeous visual feast of light and movement that have featured in some of the most well-known festivals and contemporary galleries around the country and internationally – from Vivid in Sydney to the UK’s Glastonbury Festival and Athens Digital Art Festival in Greece, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal and The Australian Centre of the Moving Image based in Melbourne.
Rose says the visual arts training she experienced at Southern Cross was critical to establishing her practice, which became the bedrock for her career.
“Creative thinking was a very strong element in the course, the technical stuff I picked up later but being able to think about WHY you are doing something is very important…the rewards for persevering and establishing your practice are there,” she says.
Musician and promoter
Kate Stroud | Bachelor of Contemporary Music
If there’s one bit of advice Kate Stroud would give a music student, it would be this: when opportunity comes knocking, open the door, invite it in, make it a cup of tea and make it feel really welcome!
“The course opened so many doors for me. I had the chance to intern at major events, connect with industry partners, who subsequently employed me, play in bands and organise live music events,” she said.
During her degree, Kate – who also sings, plays guitar and runs live sound – organised live music events on the roof of her apartment building. That led her to open a live music lounge in Lismore, before she partnered with Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA), managing events and coordinating artists. She now collaborates with a host of local organisations on projects that range from community festivals to live performance and still finds time to do a bit of songwriting and performing on the side.
Researcher at University Centre for Rural Health, Lismore
Maddy Braddon | Bachelor of Environmental Science | Bachelor of Marine Science and Management
Maddy Braddon is a born campaigner. From flood recovery to renewable energy, the environmental science graduate has worked with grass-roots programs such as Lock the Gate and Lismore Helping Hands, before landing her current job as a researcher looking at mental health and wellbeing after extreme weather events.
A passion for regional communities is a common thread. “I’ve spent much of my life moving between small towns in rural NSW and my approach to change-making stems from a growing understanding that we share common experiences and skills that unite us in the face of adversity,” says Maddy.
Maddy says that the research skills she gained in her degree were priceless. “With my interest in climate justice and building community resilience, I have the best toolkit possible”.
Resource planner at Queensland Commodity Exports
Andrew Egan | Bachelor of Forest Science and Management
Andrew Egan would rather be traipsing through bushland than behind a computer (unless it’s raining), so is happy with his days assessing trees all over southeast Queensland and northern NSW for Queensland Commodity Exports.
“I get the best of both worlds,” says Andrew, who applied for university after biking around Rotorua, New Zealand, where he was inspired by pine plantations being harvested.
“It’s quite impressive watching lots of wood get shifted around. And I just like machines,” he admits. As a new father, working in a renewable industry is also important. “Wood is the ultimate renewable resource and there is going to be more demand for it.”
Marine scientist and underwater photographer
Lucas Handley | Bachelor of Marine Science and Management
Lucas has always been a wild child. Growing up on the border of the Booyong rainforest in northern NSW, his playground was the creek and bushland around the family home.
When the family moved to a nearby coastal suburb, his boyhood interest in the natural world shifted towards the ocean. was a natural progression for Lucas and it became the backbone for his exploration of science and conservation through film and photography.
“I was already involved in work around the ocean, but the degree I think legitimised what I was doing in film,” he says.
Senior manager at NSW Department of Primary Industries
Brendan Logan | Bachelor of Coastal Management and Applied Science | PhD Environmental Science (Paleoecology)
For a self-confessed introvert, Brendan Logan spends a lot of his work life talking.
The PhD graduate of Environmental Science describes life as an executive leader as “no two days are the same” — he might start work in Ballina, fly to Sydney, end up in Dubbo, and wake the next morning with a flight to Queensland.
Brendan has two roles with NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) – managing coastal Crown land, and he’s also one of two Directors of Indigenous and Local Government Allocations for DPIE, working on a unique initiative allocating Crown land to both local government and Indigenous groups and corporations.
Child protection case worker at NSW Department of Communities and Justice
Craig Blandon | Bachelor of Social Welfare and Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying)
For Craig Blandon, helping people is in his DNA. After a career as a NSW firefighter spanning more than 14 years, Craig is currently completing his Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) at Southern Cross University.
“I’ve always enjoyed learning. If I knew I could have handled my studies and work as a firefighter, I would have done this a long time ago. I just didn’t think that university was for me at all. “Attaining my Masters and professionally qualifying as a social worker is my goal. I’m really looking forward to working further in the mental health space.
Former CEO of Heartfelt House and social science researcher
Katarzyna Loubet | Bachelor of Social Science with Honours
From an early age, Kate was interested in psychology and how people overcame adversity. In 2005 she began as a volunteer group facilitator at Heartfelt House, evolving into CEO, advocate and researcher while studying her degree.
“Heartfelt House is an independent, community-based, charitable organisation and as the CEO for three years, my role was both challenging and rewarding, especially supporting survivors and their families through programs dedicated to the healing of childhood trauma, neglect and sexual abuse,” says Kate.
“Going to university was one of the best decisions I have made! The rewards are certainly worth all the hard work, the frustrations, and even the tears. It’s an amazing feeling when you receive your qualifications, you really do feel like anything is possible,” she said.
Complex Marketing Specialist at Marriott Hotels
Militsa Antonova | Bachelor of Business in International Hospitality Management
Growing up in the small Bulgarian town of Sevlievo, surrounded by mountains and nature, Militsa Antonova dreams big.
Graduating from Southern Cross, she took on an internship that led to her dream job as Marketing Executive and now Complex Marketing Specialist at Marriott Hotels.
“Travelling is about experiencing, learning, supporting local communities and immersing yourself in new cultures,” says Militsa, who works at two luxury Melbourne properties and sees the hotel world moving into a period of colourful change in coming years.
She gets through her busy days with a little Bulgarian saying: “if there is desire, there is a way.”
Match Commissioner at Football Federation Australia
There are not many people who can say they have visited 29 countries to see exactly 169 football grounds. Sam Murphy can.
He has worked in England and New Zealand in professional sports events and with Football Queensland as the State and Major Events Manager, before landing a job as Match Commissioner for Football Federation Australia. Sam’s role is to ensure compliance with competition standards and regulations – from checking marketing to player behaviour.
“I have one of the best ‘seats’ in the house. I get to experience first-hand all of the interesting work that goes on behind the scenes to arrange a professional sport event,” he says. Sam credits his degree for his practical skills and exposure to the industry before he even graduated. “That strongly helped my understanding of industry trends and what to expect from the workplace.