ACU Alumni Awards 2016

The 2016 ACU Alumni Award winners

Australian Catholic University (ACU) is proud to celebrate the achievements of our alumni and in 2015 we launched our inaugural Alumni Awards.

The awards highlight the contribution our alumni make and our 2016 winners have proven to be brilliant graduates who have made exceptional professional, academic and community achievements.

ACU’s alumni community now numbers more than 85,000 and with so many stand-out candidates it was a challenge to choose our 2016 recipients.

The winners of the 2016 Alumni Awards were:

Indigenous midwife Cherisse Buzzacott has been named ACU’s 2016 Alumni of the Year.

The award was one of five presented to outstanding graduates at a ceremony in Melbourne on Thursday 10 November, 2016.

Cherisse was the first student to graduate from ACU’s ‘Away from Base’ Bachelor of Midwifery (Indigenous) program. She is passionate about improving outcomes for Aboriginal women and their babies, and works primarily as a midwife at Alice Springs Hospital. Cherisse is also an outreach midwife in the remote Warlpiri Aboriginal community of Yuendumu – where she provides culturally respectful antenatal and postnatal care in the Health Centre.

ACU introduced the Alumni Awards in 2015 as part of the University’s 25th anniversary celebrations – to recognise achievements among the 85,000 strong alumni community.

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Cherisse Buzzacott

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Award winner - Cherisse Buzzacott

Cherisse Buzzacott is a Central Arrernte woman and Aboriginal midwife working in her home community of Alice Springs. Cherisse was the first student to graduate from ACU’s ‘Away from Base’ Bachelor of Midwifery (Indigenous) program. She is passionate about improving outcomes for Aboriginal women and their babies, and works primarily as a midwife at Alice Springs Hospital. Cherisse is also an outreach midwife in the remote Warlpiri Aboriginal community of Yuendumu – where she provides culturally respectful antenatal and postnatal care in the Health Centre. Yuendumu, located 350 kilometres north- west of Alice Springs, is one of the largest Aboriginal communities in central Australia. In 2015 Cherisse was the Northern Territory Young Achiever Health and Wellbeing Award winner for her achievements in midwifery.

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About this award

Recognises an outstanding Alumni who has made a significant contribution to the wellbeing of others through community and humanitarian service.

Nominees for this award must demonstrate evidence of attributes that are aligned with the ACU University Mission and include being ethical in their behaviour, with a developed critical habit of mind, an appreciation of the sacred in life and a commitment to serving the common good.

Nominees must comply with all of the following eligibility and selection criteria:

  • Australian and international graduates of ACU and predecessor institutions are eligible for this award.
  • Demonstrated significant contribution to the enrichment and benefit of the community.

Javier Batista

Community Engagement Award winner - Javier Batista

Javier Batista is the co-founder and CEO of two businesses aimed at providing practical assistance to unemployed people in Australia. Walk Of Life Training Inc (WOLTI) is a not-for-profit established to provide education support, job readiness training, vocational skills development, entrepreneurship training, case management services and other intensive supportive services to youth at risk. The My Career Walk program for job seekers has a strong focus on helping young people design a career suited to their natural skills and life preferences. Javier’s programs were recently awarded funding by the Department of Education, and he is planning a training program for young people at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre.

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About this award

Recognises an outstanding Alumni who has made a significant contribution to the wellbeing of others through community and humanitarian service.

Nominees for this award must demonstrate evidence of attributes that are aligned with the ACU University Mission and include being ethical in their behaviour, with a developed critical habit of mind, an appreciation of the sacred in life and a commitment to serving the common good.

Nominees must comply with all of the following eligibility and selection criteria:

  • Australian and international graduates of ACU and predecessor institutions are eligible for this award.
  • Demonstrated significant contribution to the enrichment and benefit of the community.

Tin Ma Ma Htet (Tess)

International Contribution Award winner - Tin Ma Ma Htet

Tin Ma Ma Htet (Tess) is a teacher, a leader and, most importantly, a storyteller. She has been working to improve standards of education in her home country of Myanmar using unique methods. Raised in a poor family and having experienced discrimination from a young age, Tess became a teacher and later co-founded a youth group ‘Myanmar Storytellers’ – which participated in storytelling festivals in Thailand to share Myanmar’s traditional folktales relating to peace, diversity and tolerance. In 2015, she was invited by former US President Bill Clinton to be on the opening panel at The Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York, to raise awareness of the importance of storytelling in the peace building process. She completed a Master of Teaching (Primary) at ACU in 2016, and returned to Myanmar to focus on teaching, interfaith issues and storytelling.

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About this award

Recognises and honours the outstanding achievements of an international Alumni who has realised distinction in their chosen professional field or within their own international community.

Nominees for this award must demonstrate evidence of attributes that are aligned with the ACU University Mission and include being ethical in their behaviour, with a developed critical habit of mind, an appreciation of the sacred in life and a commitment to serving the common good.

Nominees must comply with all of the following eligibility and selection criteria:

  • International graduates of ACU and predecessor institutions are eligible for this award.
  • Demonstrated significant contribution to the international community and a focus on innovation and leadership.

Zeina Chalich

Young Alumni of the Year Award winner - Zeina Chalich

Zeina Chalich has a passion for e-learning and the effective integration of digital technologies to enhance learning opportunities and engagement for young learners. She is co-founder of #aussieED – Australia’s largest educational professional learning network on Twitter, and founder of #makerEDau. Zeina has developed a highly recognised and effective online social media platform for connection and collaboration among global educators. She is frequently invited to facilitate professional learning workshops, and serve as the keynote speaker at a number of national and international forums and conferences. Zeina is generous in sharing her knowledge to build teachers’ skills and confidence, and is a regular mentor for ACU’s pre-service teachers.

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About this award

Recognises a young Alumni (35 years or younger at the time of nomination) whose early accomplishments since graduation have led to a high level of achievement in their professional field or community engagement.

Nominees for this award must demonstrate evidence of attributes that are aligned with the ACU University Mission and include being ethical in their behaviour, with a developed critical habit of mind, an appreciation of the sacred in life and a commitment to serving the common good.

Nominees must comply with all of the following eligibility and selection criteria:

  • Be aged 35 or under at the time of nomination.
  • Australian and international graduates of ACU and predecessor institutions are eligible for this award.
  • Has demonstrated an ongoing high level of achievement in their profession or community service since graduating.