27 September 2017: When Alice Calma received her degree from the University of Canberra on Wednesday, it was from an all too familiar face – her father.
The 24-year-old is the youngest daughter of University of Canberra Chancellor Professor Tom Calma AO, who personally presented her with her Bachelor of Educational Studies.
“Usually when people hear my last name, they ask if I am dad’s daughter,” Ms Calma said.
“When a poster of dad went up in the Refectory, I had lots of people asking if we were related. I am super proud of his achievements and the work that he does for the University of Canberra but I always ensured that his role at the University didn’t impact on my own personal achievements.”
Ms Calma said she learnt many skills during her studies that she has been able to put to good use in her role working at the Department of Education and Training.
“I started as an Indigenous cadet working in the Department’s Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) Information and Services Team in 2014 and now I’m a graduate in the Teaching Profession Team, responsible for national policy on the teaching profession,” she said.
“I really enjoyed studying at the University of Canberra. The tutors were supportive, the resources are great and I learnt a lot about the teaching profession. Teaching is an incredibly rewarding career and I’d encourage school leavers to consider studying education,” she said.
“As a Kungarakan woman, I am proud that in my lifetime I have had the opportunity to be able to access higher education and complete this qualification. Many of my people before me did not have this opportunity so I hope that I have made them proud.”
She admits the occasion will be an emotional one.
“I’ll probably cry because I’m a sook but more importantly, I hope dad will understand that I am up there because of the support that he and my mother Heather gave me to get there,” she said.
“It’s incredible to have dad on stage with me to give me my degree – not many people can say that they have had the same opportunity.”
Professor Calma admits the day will also hold special significance for him.
“Graduation is a wonderful achievement and is the culmination of many years of hard work, dedication and in my daughter’s case, a few tears as well,” Professor Calma said.
“It’s an absolute honour to confer degrees to our students on behalf of the University of Canberra and I’m particularly pleased to be able to share this special moment with my daughter.”
“I feel very proud of Alice’s achievement and look forward to seeing her journey as a graduate,” Professor Calma said.
“That is probably one of the most rewarding feelings – meeting some of the University’s alumni as I travel across the country and hear their stories of success and the fondness of their days at the University of Canberra.”
Read more coverage from the University of Canberra's most recent round of graduations: