100,000th graduate sets an inspiring example
by Kelly Stone
When Charlotte Mukamuberwa arrived in South Australia from Rwanda, she was told factory work would be her only career option.
But determination and hard work has paid off for Charlotte, who graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from UniSA earlier this month.
While Charlotte’s graduation was a fantastic personal achievement, it also represented an important milestone for UniSA, with Charlotte donning her cap and gown as UniSA’s 100,000th graduate.
"I left my country due to war and when I first arrived here in 2005, it was hard to get a job," Charlotte said.
"There was an expectation that African people would do factory work here … it was hard for us to get office work. But I want to be an example to African people here that we can do anything."
Charlotte worked in IT in Rwanda as a computer programmer before coming to Australia. She applied to study at UniSA after completing an Advanced Diploma in Accounting at TAFE SA.
She said UniSA was her "only choice" when she wanted to further her qualifications because of its location and quality of education.
"I really enjoyed the student life at UniSA," she said.
"It was challenging, but I had a great time. The lecturers were helpful and there were a lot of students from other cultures whom I enjoyed working with during group assignments.
"I worked really hard and did the summer courses to fast-track getting my degree. I’m very focused and I can do anything I put my mind to… nothing can be hard."
Charlotte is currently doing work experience in the finance sector and is hoping to find a permanent or graduate position in accounting or finance.
Vice Chancellor Peter Høj said while all graduates were important to UniSA, the 100,000th graduate was an exciting milestone.
"When the SA Government introduced legislation into Parliament in 1990 to create UniSA, it charged the University with the responsibility to provide tertiary education programs to groups in the community which had suffered disadvantages in education," Professor Høj said.
"Today, among its many achievements, UniSA can claim to be a leader in providing equitable access to education for students from a diverse range of geographical, cultural, educational and socio-economic backgrounds, while at the same time having grown its total annual income for research income to more than $50 million.
"UniSA is one of the most international universities in Australia, with students from more than 60 countries. We also have many students who are the first in their family to attend university."
Professor Høj said UniSA had grown considerably since it was formed in 1991.
"We have more than 34,000 students and we currently graduate about 8500 students every year," he said.
"UniSA offers almost 400 degree programs and is the only university in South Australia to offer programs in physiotherapy, pharmacy, podiatry, medical radiation, civil aviation, journalism, property, human movement and construction management.
"We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved and even more proud of our graduates."