Yass students among University of Canberra graduates | PHOTOS

Alison Monteleone, Kate Smith and Cassandra Polyak from Yass recently graduated from the University of Canberra (UC) at in the Great Hall at Parliament House on September 27–28.

They were three of the 1,400 students received their degrees in four ceremonies with many of these coming from rural and regional areas.

Alison Monteleone, graduating with a Juris Doctor was an achievement beyond her degree.

The mature student battled cancer during her studies and had to put them on hold for 12 months.

“But here I am, I’ve beaten cancer and I have completed my degree,” a smiling Mrs Monteleone said.

“I’m excited about the prospects.”

She had an accounting degree under her belt but she loved the law units and decided to change careers and pursue her passion to eventually practice law.

Mrs Monteleone said she really enjoyed her time at UC.

“I did my first degree online, so there was not much interaction with the rest of my classmates; but this time around I loved the class discussions,” she said.

“The support from the teachers was fantastic and I got so much more out of this degree.”

The former Campbell High School student was joined by her husband at her graduation ceremony.

Business skills complement science

Kate Smith’s biggest fan was on hand to see her collect her master’s degree.

Her one-year-old son, Jackson, along with her husband, Matthew, were among a packed crowd to see her receive a master of business management (executive leadership).

After studying sports science in her undergraduate degree, Mrs Smith wanted to add some business skills to her repertoire.

She juggled study, motherhood, working at the university and the commute from Yass to Canberra to successfully complete her degree.

“It’s been a good learning experience and it’s a great feeling to have finished,” she said.

Mrs Smith was also the student speaker for her ceremony. In her speech, she quoted Chancellor Professor Tom Calma’s famous words that “education is a vaccination against poverty” and encouraged her fellow graduates to put their education to good use.

“We each have the ability to improve our community both locally and globally and the ability to make this change as never been greater.”

Education key to helping others

For Cassandra Polyak, she was excited to graduate with a bachelor of science in psychology.

The 21-year-old, who attended Mt Carmel School, said she chose to study psychology as she was interested in helping people and understanding their behaviour.

“I really enjoyed studying at UC. My classes were easy to find and I made friends in semester one that I’m still friends with today,” she said.

Ms Polyak is currently working as a mental health support worker in Canberra and is already looking to add to her qualifications and study forensic psychology.

Her family travelled from Yass and Harden to attend her graduation.

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deep Saini congratulated the students on their success.

“Our greatest source of pride is you — our students and graduates,” Professor Saini said.

“Whether you are graduating with your first degree or a postgraduate qualification, I offer you my sincerest congratulations and wish you a long and successful career in your chosen field.”