2 November 2009: Fifty five students graduated recently from the Catholic Teachers College in Baucau, East Timor, where they completed education degrees in collaboration with Australian Catholic University (ACU).
During the ceremony, former ACU graduate Isabel Guterres was awarded the University's highest honour, Doctor of the University, in recognition of her lifetime commitment to justice and service, and especially to refugees.
Born and raised in East Timor, Isabel was forced to seek refuge in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in the mid 1980s, where she used her own experiences as a refugee to assist others similarly displaced.
She later qualified and practiced as a nurse in Australia, where she continued to provide counsel to the many displaced people who had sought refuge from insecurity and political upheaval.
After returning to East Timor in November 1999, Isabel used her skills and commitment to collaborate with local teams to assist in the development of East Timorese nationhood.
In 2002 she was appointed as a National Commissioner to the Commission for Reception Truth and Reconciliation, and in 2006 she was appointed the Secretary General of the Red Cross of Timor-Leste.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven said Isabels presence as an alumnus of ACU was a true honour for the University.
The cause of the poor and the suffering became a life-changing mission for Isabel as she dedicated her energies to assist others, he said. She has never wavered from this commitment and has given hope to those with whom she has come into contact.