Our alumni are empowered with the knowledge, professional experience and ethical practice needed to excel. They are found in classrooms, hospitals and a range of other workplaces, and make a real difference in the world.

We’re proud to celebrate the achievements of our alumni. So in 2015 we launched our inaugural Alumni Awards, highlighting the contribution our alumni make to the community.


Alumni Awards 2021 winners

Nicola Barker
Bachelor of Social Work, 2019

 Nicola Barker

Nicola Barker is a Murawarii and Wangkumara woman from Brewarrina and Bourke in far-west NSW. She is passionate about education, justice, health and wellbeing and has experience working in the educational and community service sector.

Nicola holds a Bachelor of Social Work from ACU and a Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion from The University of Sydney. She is currently studying a Master of Counselling at University of Southern Queensland as well as a Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Trauma Recovery Practice at the University of Wollongong.

Nicola lives on Gumbaynggirr country and works as a social worker at the Galambila Aboriginal Health Service in Coffs Harbour. She is grateful to have the opportunity to work directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, to ensure they have access to culturally safe social work services. 

Nicola is a founder of the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition (NIYEC), an initiative that promotes the inclusion of culturally centred learning for young people within education settings. As a result of NIYEC work and advocacy, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is reviewing the national curriculum to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture. 

Nicola is honoured to be a sister to her seven siblings, an auntie and a daughter among many other titles that connect her to her family roots. She always pays respects to her elders and ancestors that paved the way for her.

Bronwyn Sheehan, OAM
Bachelor of Nursing, 1997

 Bronwyn Sheehan

Bronwyn Sheehan studied nursing at ACU and worked in Brisbane hospitals for many years as a dedicated nurse and midwife. Through this experience, she came to see the struggles, neglect and trauma that young children in foster care were facing. Inspired to share her love of learning through reading aloud to them, Bronwyn firmly believed that if a foster child could have 1,000 books read to them before they started school, they would be equal to their peers. After placing a simple ad in the local newspaper calling for volunteers to help bring her mission to life, The Pyjama Foundation was born.

Since her humble beginning training volunteers at home on her back deck, Bronwyn’s foundation has now read 2.5 million books to kids in care. Thousands of Pyjama Angels, as the volunteers are known, are currently supporting 1,200 foster kids across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Bronwyn says The Pyjama Foundation is her life’s work bringing her deep satisfaction and gratitude. She admits the learning curve was exponential growing her foundation, but is happy knowing her vision to empower foster children through educational opportunities has impacted their lives significantly, all thanks to the power of books.

Sarah Macdonald
Master of Teaching (Secondary), 2007

 Sarah Macdonald

Sarah Macdonald studied a Master of Teaching (Secondary) at ACU. She enjoys a notable career as an entrepreneur and runs Canine Comprehension, a company that brings therapy dogs to schools to interact with children. Therapy dogs help young people widen their perspective around mental health so they can get to a place where they are ready to learn. Canine Comprehension not only work with schools and support facilities in Melbourne, but offer tutoring, other school services and support residential care kids who are out of school due to social anxiety.  

Sarah started her career as a teacher and worked with many young people. During this time, she realised how big a part mental health played in learning. She also completed an animal assistance therapy course and spent a considerable amount of time as a professional dog trainer. It was during this period that she recognised how kids, especially kids at-risk, could benefit from dog-assisted therapy and Canine Comprehension was born.  

She has been awarded the Commonwealth Bank Australian of the Day and was the Silver Stevie Award Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Asia, Australia or New Zealand in 2019. Last year, Canine Comprehension was nominated in the Animal Assisted Learning (AAL) Category at the Animal Assisted Therapies Ltd Conference Awards and was a finalist at the Australian Small Business Champion Awards. In 2021 they won the Australian Achievers Award for excellence in customer relations.

Consolata Njoki Muthee
Bachelor of Social Work, 2019

 Consolata Njoki Muthee

Consolata Njoki Muthee (Consoh Kijo) completed her schooling in Kenya before heading to Australia for university.  She studied business at ACU before her passion for volunteering and community work saw her transfer into social work. She works now as a lifestyle coordinator in aged care and juggles this with her many other roles.

Consolata is also passionate about entrepreneurship, social justice, advocacy, equality, and empowerment. She founded Inspire.Y.G.(Young Generation), an initiative that seeks to inspire young people globally to pursue their dreams, especially quality education.

She is also a motivational speaker who uses a narrative approach of storytelling to inspire others. She travelled abroad alone to a place where she knew no one and gained success during uncertainty and a new environment. She shares her experiences, successes and how she overcame the challenges she faced while studying.

As the Ambassador for ACU, she was a delegate to the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) conference, where she spoke about racism and discrimination. She also represented Kenya in the 9th University Scholar Leadership Symposium in 2018. Recently she was the recipient of three Celebrate African Australian Inc. Awards for her service and impact across African communities in Australia.

Professor Shane Clifton, PhD
Doctor of Philosophy, 2005

 Professor Shane Clifton

Shane Clifton is a theologian and ethicist whose work and research is focused on the flourishing of people with disability. His first degree was in economics, but in his twenties, he pursued a theology degree and a Doctorate of Philosophy at ACU, which he completed in 2005. He spent two decades teaching theology and ethics at Alphacrucis College, and was promoted to Professor in 2016. He is currently Honorary Professor at the Centre for Disability Research and Policy at the University of Sydney, and works in the research office at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Professor Clifton is one of the lead developers of the Engage program, which helps participants explore meaning and purpose after incurring a spinal cord injury.

Malaika Mfula
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Global Studies, 2018

After Malaika Mfula completed a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Global Studies at ACU, she began an internship in Dubbo in regional New South Wales for social impact organisation, The Exchange. To develop on-the-job experience, she was tasked with developing a program that would support regional women. Malaika’s idea was to deliver workshops that would empower local women to start their own businesses after a devastating drought had impacted their ability to generate income from the land.

After pitching her idea to the government to request funding, she moved to Zambia to embark on another internship with NGO, African Impact. Similar to her work in Dubbo, Malaika helped local women scale their businesses to help them move into new markets and financially support their families.

When she returned to Australia, Malaika was surprised to hear the program from her first internship had received government funding, and she quickly returned to Dubbo to begin rolling it out to immediate success. Then, with COVID-19 forcing the workshops online, Malaika was able to extend her support to women all across regional and remote Australia, with the program receiving government funding three times over.

Malaika says investing in women’s economic empowerment is her passion that drives her forward, believing it’s the direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive, sustainable economic growth.

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