Education changes lives; its transformative power can turn weaknesses into strengths and create endless opportunities. But the transformation doesn't stop there. Many UC staff and students are using their education to improve the lives of others – that's the power of education at UC.
We want to share a few stories of how our alumni and staff are contributing to building just, prosperous and sustainable communities and making a difference to the world around them. After reading about what they've achieved, we're sure you'll feel as proud as we do.
Adam Verwey graduated from a Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations) degree at the University of Canberra in 2005. During his studies, he was President of UC’s Student Association. Adam is the founder and director of his own company, a past candidate in the Federal election, and an expert on ethical investment and corporate responsibility.
While traditional advocates for a cause build awareness and push for change through lobbying, Adam has taken a different approach to tackling the problem of climate change.
In 2014 Adam founded Future Super, Australia’s first fossil free superannuation fund. Future Super not only exists to make a profit for its members, but to also make a positive social change in Australia through market forces.
In 2015 Future Super worked with global research company Thomson Reuters to create two world-first share market indices: the Australian Fossil Fuel Free Index and the Australian Sustainability Leaders Index.
Adam is a Director for the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, a non-profit group that promotes corporate democracy and facilitates shareholder advocacy. He is also a board member of CANA, Australia’s peak body for climate change action organisations.
Professor Debra Rickwood
Debra Rickwood is Professor of Psychology at the University of Canberra and Chief Scientific Advisor to headspace: Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation.
Debra’s research has made substantial contributions to understanding issues related to young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Her work spans the entire spectrum of mental health interventions, but has a particular focus on help-seeking behaviour, early intervention and the role of new and emerging technologies in promoting young people’s mental health. She has undertaken significant policy-related work for the Australian government in relation to promotion, prevention and early intervention for mental health.
Debra is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society, a member of the College of Community Psychologists, and a member of the Scientific Leadership Council for the Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing. Debra has held ministerial appointments to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Health Ethics Committee and Australian Health Care Committee and is a past Board Director of the Australian Psychological Society.
Kabu Okai Davies
Kabu Okai-Davies is an African-Australian writer from Ghana with four degrees from the University of Canberra, including a PhD in Communications. Kabu, the 2015 Alumni Award Winner for Excellence from UC’s Faculty of Art & Design, speaks regularly about the opportunities his education has given him, and actively encourages migrants and refugees from Sudan and other parts of Africa to enroll at UC to build a meaningful life.
Kabu was the Organising Secretary for Ghana’s Association of Writers before migrating to America in 1988. He returned to Ghana in 2011 to conduct research on his doctorate, while teaching at the African University College of Communications.
Kabu was the Founder/Producer of African Globe TheatreWorks in Newark, New Jersey before migrating to Australia in 2006. Since then, he has worked with the Street Theatre, National Multicultural Festival, and as Manager of the Multicultural Centre and Aboriginal Centre at Yarramundi Reach. Kabu was appointed Festival Director for the 2008 and 2009 festivities, which had a then record-breaking attendance of over 150 000 people. The festival has since become one of the most successful multicultural festivals in Australia.
Kabu’s commitment to creativity and originality in combination with his roles as a multicultural leader and prolific author are testaments to his outstanding achievements in his field.
Nipuni Wijewickrema graduated from a Bachelor of Journalism degree at the University of Canberra in 2014. During her studies, she was the Vice President and Secretary of UC’s Press Club, a society for those with a passion for journalism. Nip has since gone on to do incredible things for her community.
Nipuni is the co-founder of GG’s Flowers, a socially sustainable florist for those with special needs. It was started for Nipuni’s younger sister, Gayana, who has Down Syndrome. The florist aims to provide meaningful job opportunities to people with special needs.
Nipuni volunteers as a Lifeline crisis and suicide counselor on a weekly basis. She is also a Respect Champion of the YWCA Canberra's Respect NOW campaign, which is dedicated to preventing violence against women in the community and implementing primary prevention initiatives.
Nipuni has been named the 2015 ACT Young Australian of the Year and the 2014 Young Canberra Citizen of the Year for her efforts. She also received an award for Individual Community Service and was a joint winner of the ACT Chief Minister's Inclusion Award for Emerging Young Leaders.
In 2016, Nip will speak at UC’s Commencement Ceremony.
Doctor Sudha Rao
Sudha Rao is an Associate Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Canberra and is also on the staff of the Centre for Research in Therapeutic Solutions. She is a research scientist in the areas of genetics and cancer biology and is close to a breakthrough treatment to prevent breast cancer recurrence and tackle ovarian cancer.
Dr Sudha Rao obtained her BSC (Hons.) degree at Keele University in the UK. She subsequently joined Aventis and as a Senior Scientist was involved in developing therapeutics strategies in the arena of asthma and COPD.
Sudha received a prestigious Aventis Fellowship and obtained her PhD from the University of London, Kings College in 2000. During this period, she joined a team of scientists at Aventis Pharma to establish the first therapeutic microarray screening platform in the UK in collaboration with Affymetrix, USA.
Sudha has extensive experience in transcriptional biology and genomic technologies that spans both pharmaceutical and academic settings. The primary focus of Sudha's research group has been to unravel complex epigenetic-signatures in transcription programs in the context of the immune system, as well as to understand the deregulatory mechanisms operating in cancer settings.
Professor Tom Calma AO
Tom Calma is an Aboriginal elder of the Kungarakan tribal group, a member of the Iwaidja tribal group and a tireless champion for the rights, responsibilities and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. He is the sixth Chancellor of the University of Canberra. Prior to his appointment as Chancellor, Dr Calma served on the University Council from October 2008 and was the Deputy Chancellor.
Dr Calma was appointed National Coordinator Tackling Indigenous Smoking in 2010 to lead the fight against tobacco use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Calma served as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner from 2004 to 2010 and as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009 at the Australian Human Rights Commission.
He has campaigned for health, social justice, inclusion and equality issues, about which he feels strongly. His 2005 Social Justice Report laid the foundation for the Close the Gap Campaign; a collaboration of some 40 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian health and human rights groups.
Dr Calma has been involved in and with the tertiary education sector since 1980 as an academic, in representing Australia's interest in higher education internationally, on research grants, in reviewing administrative and academic structures and on advisory boards and committees at eight universities.
More information can be found on Professor Calma's Wikipedia page.