Graduation caps were thrown into the air in celebration yesterday afternoon as 76 La Trobe University students officially graduated at Eastbank Centre in Shepparton.
Students, family and friends gathered for the celebrations which marked a milestone occasion in their education and recognised years of hard work.
This year was a monumental graduation for La Trobe, with the University recognising for the first time two PHD graduates in Shepparton.
Campus head Elizabeth Capp congratulated the students on their achievement, acknowledging the effort that many went through to finalise their education.
‘‘The pathways to La Trobe Shepparton are many and varied and students often manage their studies alongside work, family and other pressures, sacrificing a great deal to reach this point today,’’ she said.
‘‘Congratulations to you all — in earning your degree, you have demonstrated your determination, commitment, capacity for hard work, organisation skills and academic ability to succeed.’’
The ceremony began with an academic procession before deputy chancellor Deb Radford officially opened the proceedings.
Committee for Greater Shepparton board member Rob Priestly delivered the occasional address, before Professors Nick Bisley and Birgit Loch presented the graduates.
Guests then heard from undergraduate valedictorian Emma McDowell who was graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing and postgraduate valedictorian Margret Hickey who was graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy.
Ms Capp presented the prize and scholarship recipients before the ceremony was closed by Prof Kerri-Lee Krause.
A further 26 students graduated in absentia.
With a love for helping others, Emma McDowell said she was proud to be graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing from La Trobe University.
Beginning with a Bachelor of Para Medicine, Ms McDowell said in her fourth year of study she completed a nursing placement which sparked her love for the role.
‘‘I fell in love with nursing and I’m so glad I did it because I’m currently in my grad year at Goulburn Valley Health and I love it,’’ she said.
As part of her graduate year at GV Health, Ms McDowell is completing three rotations in different areas of the hospital.
She is working in the special care nursery, which has inspired her to study further education.
‘‘I’ve actually decided that I want to do a postgraduate in neonatal nursing because I don’t want to leave — it’s been so fantastic,’’ Ms McDowell said.
Studying a Bachelor of Business majoring in Management and Marketing, Jaiden D’Angelo had already landed a job in the field.
Working at Greater Shepparton City Council in the marketing department, Ms D’Angelo said she fell into the course during a visit to La Trobe Shepparton.
‘‘I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and I went into Shepparton La Trobe to have a chat with them and I was having a look at everything and I felt business was the best fit for me,’’ she said.
Ms D’Angelo encouraged others to consider studying at La Trobe in Shepparton, acknowledging the incredible support she received along the way.
‘‘I loved being able to work at La Trobe as well as study there and I feel like that really helped me meet so many people from so many different bachelors and majors and it was just incredible,’’ she said.
Claire Quilliam and Marg Hickey
This year was the first time Shepparton La Trobe had PhD graduates.
Claire Quilliam and Marg Hickey both graduated with PhDs, which was a milestone for the Shepparton campus.
Ms Quilliam graduated with disability studies and is working as a research fellow at the University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health in Shepparton.
‘‘We’ve both landed ourselves wonderful jobs as part of our studies,’’ she said.
‘‘To have fantastic support to continue to develop my research skills is just wonderful — it has helped us achieve really great outcomes for ourselves and lead onto really great opportunities.’’
Ms Hickey graduated yesterday with a PhD in literature and is working as a Humanities lecturer at the La Trobe campus in Shepparton.
She encouraged others to consider completing a PhD, or higher, research post graduate study in Shepparton.
‘‘We’ve been so highly supported in ways perhaps we wouldn’t be in a metropolitan area — it’s been a long journey but we’re so proud,’’ she said.
‘‘We really want to encourage other people in the Shepparton community to continue with their education because there are so many opportunities in the region and completing a PhD here is fabulous.’’