Study advice from our graduate medal winners

13 May 2020
Everyone has to start somewhere
Each year the Alumni Awards and Graduate Medals recognise a few of our outstanding alumni and recent graduates, who have worked hard to get where they are today. We spoke to the 2020 winners about their advice for students.

Make a study plan

Annabel Traves (BMus(Perf) ’19) is the 2020 Convocation Medal for undergraduate leadership winner. A multi-award-winning performer, Annabel was appointed Concertmaster to lead the Australian Youth Orchestra’s international tour and recently accepted a master’s position for solo violin performance at the Hochschule fur Musik und Tanz Cologne in Germany.

Annabel’s advice is to always have a good study plan to help you get ahead of your studies, and prevent you from being overworked.

“Always make a study plan. Especially during times when you feel like there is a huge mountain of work to get through before a looming deadline, it is so important to break down the work load into smaller categories and write those down. Then work out a plan that enables you to work through those categories section by section, day by day in a calm way. This process relaxes me and enables me to work more efficiently and effectively.”

Never be afraid to ask questions

Dr Jessica Talbot (BSc(Vet) ‘12, BVSc ‘13, PhD (Research) ’19) is the winner of the Edmund Barton Medal for Postgraduate Leadership. Jessica’s research has seen her work on collaborative projects on fungal diseases and antifungal resistance at the world renowned Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute in the Netherlands.

Jessica knows the power that curiosity can have and credits her constant search for answers as a key factor in her success.

“Never be embarrassed to ask questions and always be curious. Seeking support and advice from professionals in your field of interest will only every help you achieve your goals.”

Remember to have fun

Mo'ayyad E. Suleiman (PhD(Research) ’19) is the winner of the John C Harsanyi Medal for innovation. Mo’ayyad is the co-founder of DetectED-X, a start-up designed to improve the diagnostic efficacy of radiologists and other clinicians all over the world.

For Mo’ayyad the most important thing is to prioritise what is and isn’t urgent, and always make time for yourself.

“One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is – in life you will face two types of problems, the urgent and the important, you need to identify which is which; the urgent are usually never important, and the important are never urgent. So keep working, but remember to have fun."

Learn to adapt

Nicholas Phipps (MIntBus ’19) is the winner of the Nigel C Barker Medal for Sporting Achievement. Nick has played more than 200 professional games, including 72 tests for the Wallabies and represented Australia during two Rugby World Cups, including a World Cup final.

Everyone has challenges, but for Nick it’s about how you come back from those challenges and how you learn from them that matters.

“In my career I have had my fair share of challenges. What’s important is how you bounce back from disappointments and being able to adapt to be the best YOU can be in whatever comes your way. It’s always possible to acknowledge a bad situation, and still find the silver linings in it.”

Embrace challenge and treat yourself

Dr Michelle Barakat-Johnson (GradCertPainMgt ’06, PhD(Research) ’19) is the winner of the Rita and John Cornforth Medal for research excellence. Dr Barakat-Johnson is a senior leading health professional and lecturer in nursing and a recognised national leader.

For Michelle, it’s all about perspective. By viewing challenges and obstacles as inevitable, she is able to learn and adapt from them, as opposed to being overcome with stress.   

“I always look at challenges and change as an inevitable part of life and I try and learn something from it rather than stressing out about it, which helps me stay motivated. And always remember to treat yourself every time you complete something in your research.”

Don’t give up on your dreams

Dr Bronwyn Bancroft (MSA ‘03, MVArts ‘07, PhD(Research) ’19) is the winner of the Sister Alison Bush Medal for Contribution to Indigenous Community. Bronwyn is a passionate advocate for Indigenous voices, an artist and a proud Bundjalung Woman.

Bronwyn is living proof of the power of perseverance and that you should never give up on your dreams.

“The world is a very complex place and you in turn have to learn to simplify it to survive. While you are synthesizing this complexity, never, ever give up on your dreams, no matter how difficult it becomes.”

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