Sixty-four La Trobe University graduates gathered at Eastbank in Shepparton yesterday to celebrate years of hard work and dedication.
The group was joined by family and friends as well as esteemed scholars, City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe, chief executive officer Peter Harriott and State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed.
‘‘We’re proud to be part of the celebration and to be here on this great day to acknowledge everyone’s hard work,’’ Cr O’Keeffe said.
The ceremony began with an academic procession before La Trobe University Chancellor professor Richard G. Larkins opened proceedings, followed by an address from Ms Sheed.
After degrees were handed out, undergraduate valedictorian Jane Raleigh and postgraduate valedictorian Sam Birrell spoke on behalf of the graduates.
Head of Campus Sue Nalder presented a number of prizes to students across the college of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, the College of Science, Health and Engineering and general campus prizes.
The ceremony was closed by Vice-Chancellor professor John Dewar and an academic procession of all students.
After seven years, Shinea Sali was delighted to finally receive her Bachelor of Accounting.
A love of numbers and an interest in finance motivated Mrs Sali to pursue the degree when she finished secondary school. Her passion for fitness inspired the young woman to open her own fitness business, called Shinea Sali Fitness Studio.
‘‘I was still motivated to have my degree behind me.’’
The skills she has learned through the degree have been useful for not only her business but helping in her family’s business, Global Traffic Management.
Now 25, Mrs Sali is married and the mother of two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Porsha.
‘‘It’s good to finally have the certificate and have the chance to wear the hat and gown,’’ she said.
Mrs Sali hopes to end up in the accounting field putting her degree to good use.
Coming from a background in nursing, Peter Sleeth is passionate about learning and continuing his education.
Mr Sleeth completed a Bachelor of Arts with Honours, focusing on classical writing and history.
The 48-year-old Shepparton man has been working as an academic in the fields of health science and nursing for five years with La Trobe University.
‘‘Humanities at La Trobe Shepparton has a great reputation and I am thankful for the opportunities they’ve given me,’’ he said.
Working as a High Readiness Reserve for the Australian Air Force inspired Mr Sleeth’s PhD topic — rationality of decision making in emergency surgery.
‘‘It’s an opportunity to research how people work and think under pressure.’’
Mr Sleeth will continue as a nursing academic with the university, while working on his PhD.
In 2011, Sire Camara moved from Mali in West Africa to live on a dairy farm with her husband in Bunbartha.
After completing a Bachelor of Literature and Languages in Mali, Mrs Camara was inspired to continue studying and learning in her new country.
Because of the differing education systems, Mrs Camara had to start her studies again and decided a Bachelor of Arts would be a perfect fit.
‘‘In my first few years in Australia it wasn’t easy because I was stuck on the farm with cows and my husband flying in and out,’’ she said.
‘‘La Trobe Shepparton provided me with a community where I felt like I belonged and was always welcome.’’
Mrs Camara completed her degree in June 2017, and waited for yesterday’s graduation to celebrate with her family and friends.
She has begun her honours research in sociology and will continue on to a PhD in the future.
‘‘Study is contagious, once you begin you don’t want to stop, you just want to learn more and more,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s been an adventure.’’