Alumni of the Year awards announced

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

ACU rewards outstanding alumni Javier Batista, Zeina Chalich, Tin Ma Ma Htet and Cherisse Buzzacott

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.

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.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Greg Craven was on hand to present the awards in front of ACU staff, students, alumni, members of the clergy and representatives of industry partners.

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.

In addition Cherisse is 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 she was the Northern Territory Young Achiever Health and Wellbeing Award winner for her achievements in midwifery.

Cherisse was also awarded the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Award for a graduate who has made an outstanding contribution to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and helped strengthen cultural connections respecting traditional rights, values and cultural heritage.

Three other alumni were also recognised for their outstanding contributions.

The International Contribution Award for international alumni demonstrating distinction in professional practice or an international community.

  • Winner: Tin Ma Ma Htet (Tess)

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.

Community Engagement Award for making a significant contribution to the wellbeing of others through community and humanitarian service.

  • Winner: Javier Batista

Javier 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.

Young Alumni of the Year for early accomplishments since graduation leading to high professional achievements or community engagement.

  • Winner: Zeina Chalich

Zeina 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.

Professor Craven said each winner has taken the University’s Mission and applied it to their work and to their lives. They demonstrate a deep commitment to producing real change in communities.

“We are inspired by their leadership and honour them as role models within the ACU community and across the world,” he said.

Watch the video below to learn more about Cherise.

Learn more about our other winners