Sri Lankan Sisters win ACU alumni award

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ACU Vice Chancellor Greg Craven presents an award to Sr Geraldine Michael.
ACU Vice Chancellor Greg Craven presents an award to Sr Geraldine Michael.

Four Holy Cross Sisters have won Australian Catholic University’s inaugural Alumni of the Year Award.

Sr Geraldine Michael, Sr Pricilla John Baptist, Sr Anushala Alexander, and Sr Virgini Edwardrajah were selected for their activities in camps for internal displaced people providing medical treatment and pastoral care to civilians wounded or traumatised in the Sri Lankan civil war, and also for their work in clinical teaching and securing sponsors for students who cannot afford an education.

ACU introduced the alumni awards as part of 25th anniversary celebrations to honour the achievements of the 76,000 members of the university’s alumni community.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven presented the awards in front of an audience of ACU staff, students, alumni, and clergy in Sydney on Tuesday.

The overall Alumni of the Year award was chosen from the winner of four categories of awards, with the Sisters presented with the International Contribution Award for international alumni demonstrating distinction in professional practice or an international community.

The Sisters are all senior nurses at Holy Cross Hospital in Sri Lanka, senior lecturers in the Holy Cross School of Health Sciences and International Institute of Health Sciences based in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

Dr Sarah Miller, a clinical and forensic psychologist renowned in the international humanitarian sector for trauma counselling, won the Community Engagement Award for making a significant contribution to the wellbeing of others through community and humanitarian service. Dan Colquhoun, known as Rocking Dan Teacher man, a teacher at St Declan’s primary school in Sydney, was highly commended.

The Community Leadership Award for inspiring others to strive for excellence, deliver outstanding service and deliver innovation in their field was presented to Penny Daly, founder and president of the Welcome Group that supports newly arrived refugees in Melbourne. Highly commended was Brad Moggridge, the first Indigenous student to finish degrees in Environmental Science (ACU) and Masters of Science Hydrogeology and Groundwater Management (UTS), and a leading professional in Water Management in Australia.

Jessica Hansson, a senior exercise physiologist and team leader with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, Victoria, was named Young Alumni of the Year for early accomplishments since graduation leading to high professional achievements or community engagement. Bwe Thay, project officer with Migrant Aspiration and Mentoring Program at Swinburne University, was highly commended.

Professor Craven said the introduction of the awards during the university’s 25th anniversary celebrations was a fitting tribute to the accomplishments of the 76,000 graduates of ACU and its predecessor institutions.

“Each winner has taken the university’s mission and applied it to their work and to their lives,” he said. “They demonstrate a deep commitment to producing real change in communities.”