Meet the 2023 Graduate Medallists

24 October 2023
Celebrating the successes of our recent graduates
Each year, the University of Sydney awards six Graduate Medals to our newest alumni in recognition of their achievements in a number of categories. The awards celebrate the recipients visionary leadership, excellence, dedication and commitment to their field.

José-Miguel Bello y Villarino (PhD, '22), The Rita and John Cornforth Medal for Research Excellence

I joined the University to do my PhD in Law as a pause in my career as a civil servant. Before I came to Sydney, I had a very fulfilling career, but I was missing the independence, time and depth offered by scholarly research. I have really enjoyed the relationship with my supervisor, Professor David Kinley, both as an advisor and a mentor. I doubt we would have crossed paths if I didn’t do the PhD. It highlights the importance of that relationship – a HDR degree, though a personal endeavour, is much more than just the work of a candidate.

I have a contract for another year at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision Making and Society, based at the Law School, doing in depth research on the governance of artificial intelligence. It’s a hot topic and I would like to see my research influence the way we think about it in Australia. I believe that good research cannot only be measured by citations, but it must consider its purpose. It may not be immediate or obvious, but there needs to be some degree of potential translation into the real world.  In the social sciences, it is very easy to highlight what does not work, but less easy to come up with a solution. I hope I can facilitate the transition of ideas to those responsible for implementing them. People have been very receptive, but reducing corruption or regulating artificial intelligence doesn’t happen overnight.  

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Carmen Marton (MBA, '22), The Nigel C Barker Medal for Sporting Achievement

This degree has taught me the value of having time to research, plan and test. We were constantly encouraged to reflect on our thoughts, values and decisions, and how they related to common patterns in the community or business landscape. I really enjoyed the way the case scenarios in class always seemed to reveal something about our behaviour under pressure. This degree also emphasised that by leaning into diversity of thought, having meaningful conversations, asking good questions and really listening to the answers, you can improve your ideas and co-create something impactful.   

In my sporting career, I’ve learned that you must believe in what you’re doing with full conviction to have the energy and heart to last the distance. Just as importantly- if you surround yourself with experts and mentors who believe in you and form relationships filled with truth, integrity and kindness, then you will have a team beside you to empower you through any challenge. I’ve started a new role as a Performance Pathway Lead for a national sporting organisation. My immediate plans are to focus on improving the structures for high performance development to encourage athletes’ lifelong engagement in their sport, and to continue promoting female athletes in the mainstream media – they should be celebrated and receive the same sponsorship and development opportunities as their male counterparts! I’m also excited to try my hand at stunt work and acting, which is a new challenge for me!

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Rebecca Hyland (GradDipIndigHProm, '22), The Sister Alison Bush Medal for Contribution to Indigenous Community

I would like to think that I am a lifelong learner and I know I will always work with and continue learning and being guided from our people, communities and vast language groups, storytelling is a powerful vessel. My Culture keeps me strong – my connection to my homelands, and my people. It's a calling you get when you know you need to go home ways or go out bush and connect in nature. It's like our Ancestors calling – it could be for many different reasons, like telling you to rest or take a break, to hear an important message or to give strength. We must always take the time to stop and listen. 

I am currently the Co-Chair for the GACD Indigenous Populations Working Group, as well as being the Senior Projects Manager for a National Research Project known as iSISTAQUIT. iSISTAQUIT recently received more funding to 'scale up' into more services and more communities across Australia. It’s an honour and privilege to work with so many diverse Nation and language groups. I’m also taking on more studies - a Masters by Research. I am so grateful for this opportunity.

I found the university offers so much support and access where needed. I never felt alone or isolated, even when studying online and from home – I felt part of the Uni community. To my brothers and sisters– you have so much to give, to receive, to learn and to share. Surround yourself with inspiring leaders, and always connect back in community and on Country. You can do anything, be guided by your own spiritual Dadirri 'deep listening'.  

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Dr Yeon Jae Kim (BMedSc (Hons) ’16, PhD, ’21, MD, ‘22), Medal for Postgraduate Leadership  

The most important lesson I’ve learned from my time at the University of Sydney is to pursue your interests. I believe life becomes much richer when pursuing interests or participating in your community, as there are more opportunities to have valuable experiences as part of a team. It is so important to get involved in the student community – you can give your fellow students a voice through representation, and improve their experience by catering to their needs. University should be a space where we strive to provide a positive learning experience, and involvement with the community creates opportunities to liaise with staff members and other students who share this goal. You get out so much more than you give.

I loved studying Physics at the University of Sydney – I found the more I learned, the more I understood the natural world around me. The Physics building will always have a special place in my heart. I plan to be a research-clinician in Cardiology, pursuing my interest in cardiovascular research alongside clinical practice as a medical doctor. I’d also like to continue teaching students, so I can pass down knowledge in the way I’ve been fortunate enough to receive.

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Dane Luo (BCom (Hons) ’21, LLB (Hons) ‘23), The Convocation Medal  for Undergraduate Leadership

Going into university, I initially thought that the best way through the wide array of options was to stick with what I knew and hope for the best. It turned out that I was wrong. My most memorable moments at university have been when I pushed myself to try something new, and it turned out to be really rewarding. The more daunting it is, the more you should give it a go. University is a unique experience where there is every chance that a person in your lecture hall could be the next Prime Minister, ground-breaking scientist or famous ballerina. The future leaders of the world are walking side by side with you on campus, studying in the same libraries and attending the same lectures. Getting involved on campus is about connecting and learning from everyone.

I am currently in the UK studying the Bachelor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford with the generous support of the University of Sydney Law School. After my postgraduate studies, I hope to pursue a career as a lawyer and academic. As a lawyer, I want my work to improve outcomes for First Nations people, help people with a disability and assist children born into adversity. As an academic, I hope to research into constitutional and administrative law – my favourite field. I want to be at the forefront of constitutional change, protecting human rights and advancing treaty-making not only Australia but around the world.  

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Amber Linz (BDesComp, ’23), The John C Harsanyi Medal for Innovation 

Lots of people ask, ‘how do you think of a start-up idea?’ The question should really be rephrased to ‘how do you think of a problem to solve?’ The best way to find a big, painful problem worth solving is to try do anything well. It sounds silly, but a million times a day I’m frustrated by something unbelievably tedious that could be improved dramatically. Pursuing an idea in an industry that interests you, and where you experience the problem yourself helps. Then, seek engagement and feedback with potential customers so you can move quickly. Most importantly, try to get people to pay you ASAP the sooner you do that, the sooner you’ll know you’re solving an actual problem.

Since graduating, I’ve moved to NYC to launch my startup, Lava. We’re turning social clout into a currency, by letting brands exchange discounts for social posts.   In July, we were lucky enough to take part in Neo Accelerator and are just about to close our $5M Seed round. The concept originally stemmed from my first subject, Design Processes & Methods, in my first year at the University of Sydney . It’s rare and extremely fortunate to have one great teacher, let alone many. Throughout my degree, I was lucky enough to be taught by some incredibly brilliant, caring, selfless and patient people. They went above and beyond for their students. I remember getting rounds and rounds of feedback and mentorship for work I was doing inside and outside of class. It was truly exceptional.

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Congratulations to our 2023 Graduate Medallists. Nominations for the 2024 Alumni Awards are now open. Learn more.

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