The team leader for a humanitarian engineering project building a classroom for school students in Rwanda, was honoured with the University of Wollongong’s most prestigious student award on Wednesday.
Jessica Kiekebosch-Fitt was presented with the Robert Hope Memorial Prize on the first day of UOW’s summer graduation ceremonies.
Undergraduate and postgraduate students from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences and the Faculty of Business are being honoured during five ceremonies running from Wednesday to Friday.
Ms Kiekebosch-Kitt, who graduated with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce, was lauded for heading UOW humanitarian projects in Jakarta and Timor-Leste.
The 25-year-old said it was “quite humbling and a privilege” to receive the Robert Hope Memorial Prize.
“[UOW] provided an opportunity to broaden your horizons and also an opportunity to connect with people from very diverse circumstances,” she said.
“I recognise that being able to study and have an education at university is a privilege. With that privilege you gain knowledge, and with knowledge comes power but also a great responsibility.
“I’d like to acknowledge the university. They have provided an environment that is quite empowering.
“I'd also like to encourage people to pursue opportunity where they can and give things a go, regardless of what their inner-dialogue might say.”
Professor Max Lu was also honoured on Wednesday.
The vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, received a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) for his contribution to research and higher education at an international level.
Meantime, graduation ceremonies were also held at the Wollongong, Wollongong West, Shellharbour and Yallah TAFE campuses on Wednesday.
TAFE NSW regional general manager Kerry Penton congratulated all the graduates and said the ceremony was a fitting recognition of their commitment to improving their skills and, ultimately, their lives.
Jemma Brees graduated with a Diploma of Nursing at Shellharbour TAFE.
The 20-year-old said the Diploma would help her in her role as a community disability home-care nurse.