Western introduces its own Academy Awards for excellence

Western Sydney University has hosted a special awards ceremony, to celebrate the achievements of staff and students affiliated with The Academy.

The Inaugural Excellence Awards of The Academy, held on Friday 17th November at the University’s Parramatta City campus, saw awards presented to staff and students in a range of categories.

The following awards were presented:

Community Engagement Award: For a student who has contributed significantly to his or her community on and/or off-campus.

Awarded to: Marija Yelavich

Marija recently received the 2017 ‘Law Student of the Year’. Marija was announced as the overall winner of the coveted prize at the Lawyers Weekly 2017 Women in Law Awards in Melbourne, after being shortlisted alongside ten of the country’s top law students. Marija is 22-years-old, and is in the fifth year of her Bachelor of International Studies/ Bachelor of Laws degree.

Marija embodies the Academy's vision of an engaged student. She has contributed significantly to the university community, including founding Dare to Know Publications, and also contributed to her local community meaningfully through her engagement with the Mt Druitt Ethnic Communities Agency Mentoring Program.

Academic Engagement Award: For a student who uses or applies his/her knowledge and skills in a practical sense beyond University study to benefit others.

Awarded to: Chris Mahoney

Chris is currently studying for the Academy’s Bachelor of Applied Leadership & Critical Thinking In addition to full-time work as a Business Analyst in the transport industry. Chris also volunteers his time with Rotary, assisting with youth development and leadership mentoring on courses such as the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) and the Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment (RYPEN).

Chris has been volunteering for a number of years on these leadership development courses, and has received lots of highly positive feedback. In August this year, Chris was lucky enough to travel to Italy on the Academy Travel grant to participate in an International Leadership Development course with WYSE. There, he was able to challenge himself, and broaden his leadership horizons on an international scale. Chris is a thorough and supportive leader in everything he does. Chris also recently completed the Academy Citizen Scholar Award.

Student Leadership Award: For a student who has clearly demonstrated strong leadership qualities in everything they do.

Awarded to: Naomi Kroll

Naomi is currently studying a Bachelor of Business and Commerce and the Bachelor of Applied Leadership and Critical Thinking. This year she co-foundered of the Sock Syndicate with fellow student Jemimah McMurray after attending the USLS Symposium in Bangkok with The Academy. The Sock Syndicate aims to help Sydney's homeless by providing them with fresh socks and raising awareness of homelessness, as well as donating profits to Chris Riley’s ‘Youth off the Streets’.

Naomi exemplifies the responsibility of those fortunate to give back to those less fortunate in their communities. She also as shown strong leadership skills in developing the Sock Syndicate team as well as being a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Youth Network.

Above and Beyond Award: For a student who has gone ‘above and beyond’ in helping and assisting others.

Awarded to: Cheryl Jendrachowski

Cheryl is studying a Bachelor of Sport Management and Bachelor Applied Leadership & Critical Thinking. She has consistently conducted herself with intense compassion, empathy and resilience throughout this semester. In being highly engaged with her university life as SCC Chairperson, Ambassador for Respect.Now.Always and Go Global, Academy Community Advisor and many more, she dedicates an extraordinary amount of hours to each of these roles - being highly proactive in creating change on campus. After travelling to Stellenbosch with The Academy in July, she established the Tea Bag Project. With a grant from the Western Sydney University Sustainability Office, she developed a project that collects and dries used tea bags for Original T Bag Design, a co-op that was established 20 years ago to support and empower women and men in Townships in Hout Bay, South Africa.

Citizen Scholar Award: For a student who has achieved or close to achieving the Academy Citizen Scholar Award.

The Citizen Scholar Award is designed to enable students to graduate as active and engaged citizens as well as life-long learners. The program covers personal wellbeing, professional development, community engagement and global citizenship.

Awarded to: Amy Briggs

Amy Briggs is studying Pathways to Primary Teaching. She is the first student to have completed the Academy Citizen Scholar Award. This year she volunteered over 1000 hours as a primary ethics teacher in a local primary school.  As one of the founders of Amnesty Kingswood Student Club, they raised money to courier over 1000 books that she had collected from her local community to donate and distribute to Indigenous communities.  She also donated 400 books to students within the Reading Ambassador Program.

Collegiate Award: For a student who has been identified as representing the aims and ideals of The Academy in academic, community engagement and leadership.

Awarded to: Andrew Phong

Andrew Phong is a final year Bachelor of Business student majoring in International Business and is no stranger to the Western Sydney Community. Through his extensive involvement in student clubs, leadership programs and conferences, Andrew has been proactively working towards strengthening engagement between students and industry in his role as the Student Experience Assistant at the University.

In 2015, Andrew was awarded the Australia China Bridging Cultures Scholarship for his interest in global trade, where he developed knowledge of Chinese culture, business customs and consumer markets. He was soon admitted into the University’s high achieving students program, ‘The Academy’. Subsequently Andrew was selected to represent Western Sydney abroad, interning in Mumbai (India) for a not for profit organisation and shortly after, travelled to Hanoi (Vietnam) for an international conference on leadership and social change. He recently represented the University as part of the National Student Leadership Forum at Parliament House in Canberra, voicing the concerns and opinions of young people within Western Sydney.

Among various other things, Andrew has also advised for St. Vincent de Paul Society NSW, Community First Step (Fairfield) and Queen of Hearts (Penrith) in the capacity of a student business consultant. He aspires to become an advocate for the Western Sydney region and is passionate about empowering the middle working class Australian through the use of education and global trade

Alumnus Award: This is a special Award presented to a recent Alumnus of The Academy.

Awarded to: Jacob Muller, Catalysr

Jacob graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Business & Commerce (Advanced Business Leadership) majoring in Accounting. During his degree, Jacob co-founded 180 Degrees Consulting Western Sydney University, hiring the founding executive, 10 consultants and leading the organisation through its first two consulting projects. In 2016 he was given the opportunity to intern at the Yunus Centre in Bangladesh, an organisation led by Nobel laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus. Jacob also co-founded Catalysr, a startup incubator for refugees and migrants who want to build a better Australia. He took Catalysr through a capital raise led by Australian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, has grown the organisations' network to over 500 supporters, working with world class founders to develop a programme that teaches early stage migrant entrepreneurs to be their best. Catalysr has supported over 50 refugees and migrant entrepreneurs to-date and their work has featured in Forge magazine, The Daily Telegraph, ABC Lateline, SBS, The Australian, and Huffington Post.

Jacob has won the Vanguard Award at the Foundation for Young Australians, the Macquarie Bank Kick Starter Competition and the School for Social Entrepreneurs Pitch Competition. Nowadays, in his spare time, Jacob is seeking to understand the way technology will shape our future with a few side projects: learning to code, building self-driving cars, and using data science to predict how technology will affect jobs in decades to come.

The Academy Epitome Award: For an Academic who epitomises the ethos of The Academy and has provided exceptional academic input during the year.

Awarded to: Emeritus Professor Richard Bawden

Richard Bawden has had a long and varied career as an academic.  He was one of the foundation professors (Systemic Development) of the University of Western Sydney (in 1989) and the founding Dean of its Faculty of Agriculture and Rural Development. For the decade preceding that, he had been Head of the School of Agriculture at Hawkesbury Agricultural College and for a decade before that had been on the Faculty of Rural Science at the University of New England during which time he enjoyed a 2 year secondment to a UN project in South America. He was Dean of that Faculty in 1977-78. Retiring from UWS in 1999 he moved to the USA to accept the Distinguished Visiting University Professor position at MSU.

He was appointed to the Order of Australia – general division – in 2000 for his contributions to systemic development.

He was made an Emeritus Professor of the University of Western Sydney University in 1999 and is currently an honorary research fellow in the Office of Sustainability at Western Sydney University. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Open University in the UK, an adjunct professor at Michigan State University, and is the Managing Director of the not-for-profit Systemic Development Institute, Principal Consultant at Neville Freeman Agency and President of the Hawkesbury Foundation and Chair of its Board of Directors.

Unique to Western Sydney University, The Academy offers advanced degrees, professional development and community engagement programs that allow students to prepare to thrive in the face of change.

In celebrating everything that Academy staff and students have achieved, Head of The Academy, Professor Jonathon Allen, could not look past the obvious correlation with Hollywood’s ‘Academy Awards’.

“Western’s ‘Academy Awards’ are given to students and staff that have really gone above and beyond, or have shown academic excellence or leadership skills – all the key tenants of The Academy,” says Professor Allen.

“In Hollywood, the best of the best are given an Oscar. At Western, the best and brightest of The Academy are given a ‘Shergie’.”

Professor Allen worked with technologies within the MakerSpace facility to fabricate the University’s own statue award – a three dimensional, ceramic model in the likeness of Chancellor, Professor Peter Shergold.

For more information about The Academy, visit westernsydney.edu.au/theacademy


20 November 2017

Photo: Andrew Phong

Media Unit