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The stars shine bright at graduations

by Rosanna Galvin

(L-R) Belle Hope, Major General Charles Bolden and Nicholas Haley.(L-R) Belle Hope, Major General Charles Bolden and Nicholas Haley.

High school students with Major General Charles Bolden.NASA Administrator Major General Charles Bolden was one of a stellar line up at March graduations, when he and three eminent Australians were awarded honorary doctorates from the University. Former UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj, author and feminist thinker Anne Summers, and winemaker entrepreneur Wolf Blass were honoured across the week.

And for more than 1000 local school students the rare opportunity to hear from one of the world’s leading space pioneers during his visit was enthusiastically received.

At a special event prior to receiving his award, Maj Gen Bolden shared his inspiring story with a captivated audience, urging the young students to reach for the stars.

Speaking of his own experience as an African American growing up in a segregated society, Maj Gen Bolden told the students to let nothing hold them back from chasing their dreams.

“Don’t let the colour of your skin, your gender, where you’re from or what part of town you live in, limit what you can achieve in life,” he said.

In addition to the honorary doctorates awarded at graduations, retired Pro Vice Chancellor of the Business School, Professor Gerry Griffin was also awarded an Emeritus Professorship.

Maj Gen Bolden, Wolf Blass, Anne Summers and Prof Peter Høj receiving their honorary doctoratesMore than 5000 students graduated from the University during the week. Among them was Trevor Ritchie, who crossed the stage to become the first Indigenous occupational therapist in South Australia.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd said graduations are a time to celebrate the next generation of professionals entering the workforce, and at the same time reflect on those who have already made a huge contribution to the community.

“This is when we celebrate not only students’ hard work and success but also the potential of what comes next in their careers,” Prof Lloyd said.

“Our students are graduating from university with a drive to have a real impact on the world, to make their mark in their chosen field and at the same time to work towards a better society.

“In conferring special awards we are recognising the inspiring example of outstanding individuals who have already contributed so much to the community throughout their remarkable careers.

“Charles Bolden forged a highly successful international space career in an era where barriers for African Americans were almost insurmountable.

“Here in Australia, Anne Summers was a leader of the generation and the movement that changed Australia for women and contributed to increasing women’s participation in higher education.

“And the Wolf Blass story is an exemplar of the spirit of enterprise. From his modest beginnings, Wolf went on to build one of Australia’s most awarded and successful wineries and wine brands.”

Prof Lloyd said this year’s graduation ceremonies were also a chance to honour the fundamental role Prof Høj and Prof Griffin have each played in the evolution of UniSA.

“Peter made an indelible mark on the University during his five-year tenure as Vice Chancellor and President,” Prof Lloyd said.

“Under his leadership, UniSA became one of Australia’s most rapidly developing universities. For two consecutive years (2010-11), UniSA was the most improved Australian university in the QS World University Rankings – only five universities improved their position since 2009, and UniSA’s ranking moved from 19 to 11 in Australia.

“Gerry also played an important part in UniSA’s history – he was instrumental in winning EQUIS accreditation for the Business School which was re-accredited in 2007, 2010 and again this year for another three years.

“In addition, he conceived, planned and initiated a new Law School which awarded its first graduates in March 2011.”