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Graduate medals recognise outstanding alumni


31 October 2012

(L-R) University of Sydney Deputy Chancellor Alan Cameron, with Convocation Medal winners Patrick Bateman and Andrew Thomas.
(L-R) University of Sydney Deputy Chancellor Alan Cameron, with Convocation Medal winners Patrick Bateman and Andrew Thomas.

Some of the University of Sydney's most outstanding alumni have been recognised with graduate medals, awarded to exceptional students who have graduated or completed requirements for their degrees in the previous year.

The graduate medals include recognition of undergraduate and postgraduate excellence and community achievement, as well as awards for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student achievement, sporting achievement, and international student achievement.


Convocation Medal for Undergraduate Achievement

First awarded in 1980, the Convocation Medal honours bachelor's degree graduates who have shown strong leadership and enriched the diverse life of the University.

This year's winners include Patrick Bateman (BEcSocSc (Hons) '10, LLB '12) and Andrew Thomas (BEc (Hons) '11).

  • Patrick Bateman is a world-class orator, student union advocate and community volunteer. He achieved excellent academic results throughout his studies, and was recognised with numerous prizes from the University and St Paul's College. Patrick co-founded the Public Speaking Society through the University of Sydney Union (USU), and as USU president from 2009 to 2010, increased membership by 30 percent and brought the union to a budget-neutral position. In 2011 he was named world champion in the Phillip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition - the largest and most prestigious mooting competition in the world. Patrick is also a dedicated volunteer for Lifeline and has also volunteered in a juvenile detention centre in Capetown.
  • Andrew Thomas has used his outstanding academic success to make valuable contributions to the University and the wider community. Along with receiving numerous prizes and scholarships, he has successfully represented the University nationally and internationally as a debater and public speaker. He has also served on a number of representative bodies, including the Academic Board. Along with a fellow resident of St Paul's College, Andrew raised $40,000 for a school and Uganda for the African Foundation for People in Need. He has also volunteered with the Redfern Legal Centre and with microfinance organisation Opportunity International.

Edmund Barton Medal for Master's by Coursework Achievement

Now in its second year, the Edmund Barton Medal honours the achievements of alumnus Sir Edmund Barton, who was the first prime minister of Australia and founding justice of the High Court. During his time at the University of Sydney, Barton was one of the rowing four that took part in the first inter-university boat race, held in Melbourne in 1870, as well as playing football for Sydney University Football Club and performing in a University dramatic show presented to the Duke of Edinburgh.

  • Joanna Whitney (BSc (Vet) '02, BVSc '04 MVSc (honoris causa) '11) receives this year's Edmund Barton Medal in recognition of her outstanding achievements in veterinary science. Throughout her studies, Joanna received a number of academic awards while working as a full-time clinician at the University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Her research has had a marked effect on the state of veterinary care, leading to improved tests for fungal infections in cats and strengthening the Faculty of Veterinary Science's reputation as an international leader in feline medicine. While she was completing her academic studies, Joanna also met the demanding requirements for additional professional qualifications, mentored undergraduate students and veterinary nurses, and assisted in the launch at the hospital of anaesthesia rounds and an after-hours emergency service.

John Harsanyi Medal for International Student Achievement

The John Harsanyi Medal, named in honour of John Charles Harsanyi (MA '53, DScEc '95), a Hungarian-Australian-American economist who won the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, is awarded for the first time this year.

Harsanyi arrived in Australia as a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and refugee from Stalinist Hungary in 1950, and worked full-time to put himself through postgraduate evening classes at the University of Sydney.

  • Christian Sautter (MInternatBus&Law '11), who receives the inaugural John Harsanyi Medal, maintained excellent academic results throughout his Master of International Business and Law while also dedicating his time to volunteer work. As a student ambassador, Christian helped to improve the experiences of current and future students, assisted with a number of key events, and mentored at Sancta Sophia College. He demonstrated his leadership talents as a team leader at 180Degrees Consulting, an international pro bono student consultancy that works with not-for-profit organisations. In June 2011 he was accepted into the Graduate institute of International and Development Studies, which allowed him to study at the World Trade Center and the United Nations headquarters, as well as completing a certificate in international trade and development in Switzerland.

Nigel C Barker Medal for Sporting Achievement

Another award established this year, the Nigel C Barker Medal, honours graduates who have achieved academic excellence and contributed through sport to the University and the broader community.

The medal is named in honour of Nigel Chase Barker (BE 1909), a world record-breaking athlete and rugby union player who was arguably the University of Sydney's first Olympian.

  • Gymnast-turned-diver Alexandra Croak (BAppSc '10, MHlthSc (Sexual Hlth) '12), who receives the inaugural Nigel C Barker Medal, is the fifth Australian female to become a dual Olympian in two different sports, competing in artistic gymnastics at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and diving at the Beijing 2008 Games. She is also the first Commonwealth Games athlete to achieve gold medals in two different sports, with gymnastics at the Manchester 2002 Games and diving in Dehli in 2010. She achieved academic success throughout her studies, as well as dedicating her time as an ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, the Australia Day Committee and Camp Quality.

Rita and John Cornforth Medal for PhD Achievement

The Rita and John Cornforth medal was established in 2011 to commend the academic and community achievements of PhD graduates. The medal is named in honour of Sir John Warcup 'Kappa' Cornforth AC CBE FRS (BSc '38, MSc '39, DSc '77) and Lady Rita Cornforth (BSc '37, MSc '38), who were among the most outstanding students in their respective years. John went on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1975 for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalysed reactions. He has been deaf since his teens, and Rita has relayed speech to him by lip-reading throughout their life together. Rita and John both accepted postgraduate scholarships in 1938 to work at the University of Oxford, and had a profound influence on the study of penicillin during World War II.

  • Jodie Ingles (PhD (Medicine) '11) is an outstanding researcher in the field of genetic heart disease, and has made significant contributions to the discipline. She has published 20 high quality peer-reviewed papers, 14 of which arose from her PhD research into the psychosocial aspects of genetic heart disease in the young. Jodie also established the world's first National Genetic Heart Disease Registry in Australia and Australia's first Genetic Heart Disease Clinic, which is being used as a model for similar centres in Australia and overseas. Most recently, she was awarded the NHMRC early Career Scholarship, co-funded by the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

Sister Alison Bush Medal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Achievement

Established this year, the Sister Alison Bush Medal honours the academic and community achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates. Sister Alison Bush, descended from the Ngalakan clan Ngukurr (Roper River) in the traditional language group of Garawa Borroloola, was an icon and pioneer who dedicated her life in service to others. A member of the Stolen Generation, Sister Bush was the first Aboriginal midwife to work at a major hospital in New South Wales, delivering more than 1,000 babies during her 40 years of service at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA). She had a long history with the University's Sydney Nursing School, and presented lectures and clinical advice to students on placement at RPA. Sister Alison spent the last decade of her life travelling to remote areas of Australia in her role as an Aboriginal Liaison Midwife.

  • The inaugural Sister Alison Bush Medal is awarded to Scott Wilson (GradDipIndigH (SubUse) '10, MIndigH (SubUse) '12), a national leader in the fields of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and substance use. As director of the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council for the past 17 years, he has played a significant role in shaping national policy on alcohol and drug use. He is also a member of several organisations that work to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander substance misuse, including the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Council, the Alcohol and Drugs Council of Australia, the National School Drug Education Committee, the Close the Gap National Steering Committee and the National Drug Research Institute. Scott also received the 1997 ADCA Australia Day Award and the Australian Centenary Medal for Services to the Community in 2003.

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Media enquiries: Katie Szittner, 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809, katie.szittner@sydney.edu.au