Winners of the 2016 Alumni Awards

Published: Thursday 25th August 2016

Alumni Awards banner

ACU’s alumni community now numbers more than 85,000 and the annual Alumni Awards celebrate our graduates making a difference in their local and global communities.

Associate Director, Student Recruitment and Advancement, Maureen Frame said the awards highlight brilliant graduates who have made exceptional professional, academic and community achievements. “The winners are the embodiment of our Mission and are our strongest advocates and ambassadors,” Ms Frame said.

ACU is proud of the impressive achievements of our alumni and we are excited to share with you the winners of the 2016 Alumni Awards:

Cherisse Buzzacott is the winner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Award for her achievements in Indigenous midwifery. She is currently a Registered Midwife/Remote Outreach Midwife at Alice Springs Hospital. She also undertakes outreach work providing culturally respectful antenatal and postnatal care at the Women’s Centre in the remote Warlpiri Aboriginal community of Yuendumu. Cherisse was the first student to graduate from ACU’s ‘Away from Base’ Bachelor of Midwifery (Indigenous) program in 2013 and is now a leader in her field. She will continue to make an important contribution to our midwifery community in both the Northern Territory and Australia.

Javier Batista is the winner of the Community Engagement Award for his work in supporting high-risk, disengaged youth through intensive job readiness and entrepreneurship training, education and vocational skills. As an ACU business graduate, Javier established Walk Of Life Training Inc which is a not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to promote self-sufficiency for the transition into adulthood through education, marketable employment and vocational skills; finding careers with defined paths for growth and advancement. He also established the My Career Walk job seeker program designed to place people in more suitable employment. “Based on over 20 years of experience, together with extensive research, it efficiently leads a jobseeker to discover their most useful personality traits, resulting in confidence and motivation”, Mr Batista said.

Tin Ma Ma Htet (Tess) is the winner of the International Contribution Award for her work as an educator and practitioner to improve the standards of education in Myanmar and sharing the importance of storytelling in a global context. Raised in a poor family and having experienced discrimination from a young age, she decided on a career as a teacher and trainer to teach children fairly, and value their differences. In 2009, she co-founded a youth group Myanmar Storytellers and performed stories to people of different age groups. The youth group participated in storytelling festivals in Thailand to share Myanmar’s traditional folktales relating to peace, diversity and tolerance. In 2015, Tess 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.

Zeina Chelich is the winner of the Young Alumni of the Year for her achievements in the integration of digital technology in teaching and learning. As co-founder of #aussieED – Australia’s largest educational professional learning network on Twitter and founder of the #makerEDau twitter chat, Zeina has developed a highly recognised and effective online social media platform for connecting and collaboration among innovative educators globally.

The awards are open to graduates from ACU and predecessor institutions. Nominees demonstrate evidence of attributes aligned with the ACU Mission, namely 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.

The 2016 Alumni Awards ceremony will be held on 10 November in Melbourne and hosted by the Vice-Chancellor. It will be held in the company of staff, students, stakeholders and alumni. Future awards ceremonies will be celebrated at the ACU Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane campuses on a rotational basis.

For more information, please contact Alumni Relations Manager, Sarah Currie at