Ahead of National Volunteer Week, we're celebrating our alumni volunteers. Working across a broad range of University of Sydney programs, they are donating their time and expertise to build a stronger community.
The University of Sydney benefits from a diverse, multiskilled volunteer community who generously share their time to support others.
Roles range from supporting students and providing expert insights for University programs and activities, to acting as citizen scientists to safeguard our environment into the future.
Taking place from 16-22 May, in 2022 National Volunteer Week is themed Better Together, recognising the role volunteering plays in bringing people together, building communities, and creating a better society for everyone.
We spoke to four alumni volunteers to learn why they support the University of Sydney community, and how they have found the experience.
Maria Ternezis, Head of Core Packages Delivery at Westpac, has participated in the Dalyell Professional Mentoring Program, the Business Alumni Mentoring Program, and as an Industry Mentor.
Maria, who describes the University of Sydney as a gateway to an amazing career around the world, decided to volunteer to give back to the University.
Mentoring is one of the most rewarding two-way streets I have travelled.
"Mentoring is one of the most rewarding two-way streets I have travelled. In addition to having the opportunity to share stories, lessons learnt and tips and tricks I accumulated in my career, I also get to meet and hear from the leaders of the future. These bright minds will be leading our country in the private and public sector locally and globally, and that is a great feeling!"
Maria has also volunteered as a Graduation Ceremony speaker, where she celebrates and inspires graduating students.
For Alumni Council Deputy President Karn Ghosh, when he was approached to volunteer his time on the Council, it was an "easy yes".
As the Founder and CEO of Kinela, a business committed to improving the health of people with disability, Karn describes himself as fortunate to have had a University of Sydney education and enjoys being able to pay it forward in a "small but meaningful way" while reconnecting with the University community.
"It’s rewarding to learn about the diverse and dynamic work across the faculties and meet people from across the spectrum of academia and teaching. It has also been fascinating to have a front row seat to the way the University has navigated the challenges of the pandemic and closed borders."
Karn encourages anyone considering volunteering to start by defining their 'why'. "If you’re clear about what motivates you, then there is an amazing variety of opportunities through which you can get (back) involved with the University – and who knows what that might lead to!"
Adjunct Professor John Skerritt is Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health, and has direct leadership of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Office of Drug Control.
On top of these busy roles, Professor Skerritt has found time to volunteer by sharing his expertise to inform the Master of Medicine (Advanced) (Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Development). A degree which started in the Sydney Medical School and recently moved to the Sydney Pharmacy School, it is designed to qualify those from backgrounds such as science, pharmacy, and engineering for a potential career in regulation, health technology assessment or industry.
"Many people with a research or science background do not automatically consider a career in these areas. By contributing to this course I can personally contribute to the next generation of people who can make a really important contribution to access to products and technologies that save Australian lives," says Professor Skerritt.
Monika Wheeler chose to volunteer alongside her family to become a 'citizen scientist' for the Sydney School of Veterinary Science’s Lorikeet Paralysis Syndrome Project, where volunteers recorded their observations of what local rainbow lorikeets were feeding on to help identify potential causes of the disease.
Monika was one of fifty-six generous alumni who registered their interest to become 'citizen scientists' for the project, and says her son inspired her to put her hand up to volunteer.
"My son loves Rainbow Lorikeets, and so we as a family decided to lend a hand in protecting these lovely creatures. The biggest benefit of volunteering through this program is knowing I’ve contributed, even if only a small amount, to the conservation of native fauna in Northern NSW."
When asked about her advice to those considering volunteering with the University of Sydney, Monika’s advice is simple – get involved!
Volunteering doesn’t need to take over your life, but it may enrich it.