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A community of difference: University of Sydney honours its alumni


31 October 2011

In the 155 years since the University of Sydney conferred its first degrees, Sydney graduates have changed the world by governing countries, making transformational scientific and medical breakthroughs and exploring the furthest stretches of the earth and how we understand it.

At the annual Alumni Awards last week, the University recognised alumni who have pioneered neuroscience techniques, improved food security in developing countries, and inspired young people from low socio-economic areas of Sydney to engage in tertiary study.

"From the very beginnings of the University of Sydney, part of the DNA of our institution has been a passionate, consistent, unrelenting commitment to making a difference," said University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence.

In welcoming attendees to Friday's Alumni Awards in the University's Great Hall, Dr Spence said the 2011 recipients embodied that tradition.

"Our alumni tradition is one of which we are extremely proud," he told attendees. "It's a remarkably glorious tradition."

Four alumni and three 2010 graduates were recognised on Friday.

Alumni Award for Community Achievement

Anne Crawford, BA '85, BSW '87

Anne Crawford combined her drive for supporting the community with a passion for running and fitness by kick-starting a community health and fundraising scheme called 'Can-Too Run and Swim' in 2005. The program, now known as 'Can Too', has trained more than 6000 people to achieve goals they never thought possible, such as running a marathon, half marathon, or completing an ocean swim. It has also raised $7 million for Cure Cancer Australia, which provides vital seed funding to young researchers with innovative ideas.

Anne Crawford
Anne Crawford

Alumni Award for Professional Achievement

Jointly awarded to Dr Wirginia Maixner, MBBS '86

After graduating with a combined Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree in 1986, Wirginia Maixner became the third woman accepted into the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) four-year neurosurgery training program. When she became pregnant during the program, she persuaded RACS to grant its first-ever maternity leave provision in neurosurgery, and completed the arduous training as a single parent. At the age of 38, Wirginia became one of Australia's youngest heads of neurosurgery (and the first woman appointed to the role) at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne. Wirginia has performed numerous operations on children suffering rare conditions, including the first auditory brainstem implant on a child in Australasia in 2007, and the world-famous 32-hour surgical separation of conjoined twins Trishna and Krishna in 2009

Dr Wirginia Maixner
Dr Wirginia Maixner

Alumni Award for International Achievement

Professor Robyn Alders AO, BSc(Vet) '83, BVSc '84, DipVetClinStud '86 and David Anstice, BEC '70 HonFellow '09

Now based in Angola, Africa, Robyn Alders has made an internationally significant and long-term contribution to the improvement of poultry health and production in rural villages in Africa and Asia. Before Robyn's ground-breaking work, the significance of poultry in Third World micro-economies was little understood. Her research into the spread and control of virulent bird contagion Newcastle Disease, in particular, has revealed just how much healthy poultry contributes to the livelihood and future of people in these regions.

Professor Robyn Alders
Professor Robyn Alders

David Anstice is a businessman and company director, and one of Australia's most eminent US-based executives. David retired as a senior executive of Merck & Co., Inc, in 2008, where he held various senior roles. Today, he is non-executive director of CSL Limited and Alkermes. He was awarded an honorary fellowship of the University of Sydney in 2007.

David Anstice
David Anstice

Young Alumni Award for Achievement

Corey Payne, BCom '07

In 2009, Corey Payne founded the Future Direction Network (FDN) to encourage young people from less privileged schools or low socio-economic areas of Sydney to engage in tertiary study. FDN is led by a team of young professionals who grew up in the Western Suburbs, attended university and progressed to successful careers, and provides students with mentoring and career pathway planning. A proud Western Suburbs boy, Corey made his National Rugby League (NRL) debut in 2005, before eventually signing for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 2010. During this time he also graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2007. Corey recently signed a further two-year contract with the Bulldogs, and is currently completing his Master of Commerce at the University of Sydney.

Corey Payne
Corey Payne

Convocation Medal for Undergraduate Achievement

Jointly awarded to Nathaniel Ware, BEc '11 and Naomi Hart, BA (Hons) '09, LLB '11

Nathaniel Ware won numerous accolades for his academic work during his time at Sydney, while also playing an active role in campus life. In 2007, he founded the student society '180 Degrees Consulting', now the world's largest pro bono student consultancy, with offices in nine countries. As the University of Sydney Union's Environment Convenor, he set up an environmental rating scheme, directed a public speaking competition on environmental issues, and organised CleanUp Uni Day.

Nathaniel Ware
Nathaniel Ware

Naomi Hart excelled academically, winning the University Medal in history. She is also a talented debater who has been ranked as a top 10 speaker in Australasia, and co-founded the Sydney University Public Speaking Society. She also edited Honi Soit, served as President of the Sydney University Red Cross Society, and set up a scholarship to encourage women from developing countries to participate in debating.

Naomi Hart
Naomi Hart

The Edmund Barton Medal for Master's by Coursework Achievement

Erin Law, MN '11

Earlier this year Erin Hart travelled to Vietnam on the Hoc Mai Scholarship, which enabled her to gain experience working with trauma patients in an emergency department for five weeks. She was placed on the Dean's list of excellence in academic performance in 2009, as well as being an active student representative to both faculty and academic boards. In 2010, she won the Women's Plans Foundation Award, which is given to a student with a demonstrated interest in global women's health.

Erin Law
Erin Law

The Rita and John Cornforth Medal for PhD Achievement

Kirsten Harley, BSc '92, PhD '10

Kirsten Harley's doctoral thesis examines how sociologists understand theory and use it in their approach to their work. Her commentary on the issue has been published in international journals and presented at international conferences. Kirsten also worked as a teacher in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy, and has held roles on the Student Appeals Panel, SUPRA Council and Policy Committee.

Kirsten Harley
Kirsten Harley


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