Student Leadership Award winners

2014 winners

Jyi Lawton

2014 Student Leader of the Year

Jyi will graduate later this year with a Bachelor of Justice degree.

He has been an extremely active student at QUT since he began his studies in 2010. He has been an Oodgeroo Unit Ambassador since 2010, as well as being a QUT Student Ambassador and an Equity Ambassador.

Jyi has a strong passion for rugby league on a number of levels. He has represented the Jack Barba memorial team in the Queensland Murri Carnival, actively coached the Under 12s Kambu team, and represented QUT in the National Indigenous Tertiary Education University Games.

Jyi has played a very active role in the Indigenous communities both within and outside of QUT. He has helped mentor young Indigenous school students through his involvement in the Australian Indigenous Mentor Experience at QUT, and is currently employed as a Youth Worker at Brisbane Detention Centre, where he specifically works with young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men. He previously worked as a Residential Youth Worker, where he worked with young people who had been removed from their families for child safety reasons.

While in Mackay working on projects, Jyi was involved in a number of Aboriginal endeavours. He was part of an Aboriginal dance crew, volunteered with the Mackay Aboriginal and Islander Justice Alternative Group and he volunteered with the Mackay Youth Services program.

Vincent Balmes

Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

Vincent is pursuing a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, and will graduate in 2015. He has been a very active member of QUT Engineers Without Borders since 2012, and is currently the treasurer. He has also been involved with the Engineers Without Borders High School Outreach Program, which has required him to help educate high school students about humanitarian engineering. Vincent regularly volunteers at the QUT Drop Tower Facility and has become the leader of the Combustion Synthesis Chamber Design and Fabrication student group. He is also a sessional academic tutor for second year engineering students.

Vincent has been heavily involved in the QUT Filipino Students Association since 2012, where he has helped increase the retention rate of QUT's Filipino students. He has increased the interactions between this student group and the larger Brisbane Filipino Community and played a role in several fundraising initiatives to assist with the Typhoon Haiyan disaster that recently hit the Philippines.

In 2013, Vincent became a tutor for the Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma, a not-for-profit organisation promoting the health and wellbeing of Queenslanders who have been tortured or suffered trauma before migrating to Australia.

Vincent received the Dean's List of Students with Excellent Academic Performance and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. He was nominated to attend the Envision Global Forum on Engineering & Technology for QUT.

Melissa Blacklock

Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

Melissa is pursuing a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and is due to graduate in 2015.

Melissa has held a variety of ambassadorial roles since beginning her student career at QUT. She has been a Central Student Ambassador since 2011, was a Science and Engineering Faculty Ambassador in 2013, and since 2013 she has been a LEGO Ambassador at The Cube and an Ambassador for the QUT Transform Initiative.

She was a co-founder and the inaugural secretary of the QUT Red Cross Young Humanitarians Club. She is a peer learning facilitator and duty host for the STIMulate program and has been active in the QUT Connect program and is a campus life volunteer.

In addition to her busy life as a campus leader and student, she has been active in the wider community. She's been working at McDonalds since 2009, and has worked and volunteered for McHappy Day, raising money for Ronald McDonald House charities. She is a strong supporter of the Red Cross Blood Service, and participated in the Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave in 2014, raising more than $1,300.

Melissa is passionate about teaching, and in 2013 she volunteered as a judge for both the Brisbane South chapter of the OptiMinds Creative Sustainability Challenge and the First LEGO League tournament. Her passion also extends to the classroom, as she has been a volunteer classroom helper at St. Augustine's College since 2012.

Tianna Camilleri

Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

Tianna is expected to graduate later this year with dual Bachelor degrees in Nursing and Health Science (Paramedic).

She co-founded the QUT Society of Undergraduate Nurses in 2012, and has been events officer, treasurer, vice president and president of this group, which now boasts nearly 500 members. One of her many achievements throughout these roles has been to lead and participate in a structured program of clinical and academic mentoring sessions for fellow nursing students. Her passion for nursing led to her involvement as the student representative of the School of Nursing - Learning and Teaching Subcommittee since 2013, the Health Academic Board Committee in 2014, and the QUT Guild Health Faculty Representative in 2014.

Tianna has also had a significant impact on the wider community. She personally helped raise more than $3,500 for Cystic Fibrosis Queensland and Young Care, and is currently co-organising the QUT SUN's Charity Ball in support of Angel Flight. She helped assemble the Girls in Engineering Making Statements birthing kits in 2013. Last year, Tianna was selected to represent QUT Nursing on the Australian Student and Novice Nurse Association working party, and was promoted to Assistant National Student Coordinator in early 2014.

She has been a member of the Student Paramedics Australasia since 2011 and joined the Australia and New Zealand College of Paramedicine in 2014. In 2013, she led a clinical demonstration in a trauma education night, where she and her peers responded to a mock-mass casualty event at the Queensland Combined Emergency Services Academy.

Bikram Chadha

Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

Bikram will complete his Bachelor of Business (Honours) later this year. He has a passion for helping fellow students, which has been demonstrated throughout his many activities. Throughout 2013, he was a QUT library services peer advisor, and since then, he has been tutoring and marking for the QUT Business School. He also provides advice to new and struggling students on effective study techniques, report writing skills and time management habits. In addition to helping QUT students, over the past 4 years Bikram has privately tutored a number of students to improve their grades.

Having a strong interest in finance, in 2013, he joined the Economics and Finance Society and overhauled their financial management system. Also, during the QUT Red Cross Club's founding year, he helped establish an efficient recording and reporting system.

Bikram volunteered at the Grameen Bank and World Vision Australia, both for 2 years. In 2013, he joined the Business School's international case competition team, and in 2014 competed at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Bikram also represented QUT at the state finals in Microsoft's Protégé competition and in 2013 won the QUT hosted Australia/New Zealand strategy competition.

As if his accomplishments as a student weren't impressive enough on their own, during his first year at QUT, he marketed himself as a freelance financial consultant, where he advised clients on acquisitions, streamlining operations and international expansion. He now has an international portfolio of clients based in Australia, India and China.

Courtney Coombs

Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

Courtney is the first postgraduate student honoured with a Student Leadership Excellence Award. She will complete her Doctor of Philosophy in Creative Industries later this year.

Courtney has demonstrated a strong commitment to the university community in a variety of ways. In 2008, she became president of the visual arts student association, PastDatum. She was a volunteer curatorial and public programs intern with the Creative Industries Precinct in 2009, and in 2010 she was an invited speaker at the QUT Art Museum Forum, and has sat on several panels geared towards prospective students and their parents explaining career options for visual arts graduates.

Her commitment to the arts community extends beyond QUT as well. In 2009, she was a founding volunteer co-director of No Frills* ARI, an all-woman artist run initiative dedicated to the promotion of challenging contemporary art practices. In 2010, she was once again a founding volunteer and co-director, this time of LEVEL, a three woman feminist art collective. LEVEL continues to this day running a gallery space, studio complex and a residency program for young and emerging women artists. Also in 2010, Courtney's personal work was included in an exhibition at the contemporary art space, Casino Luxembourg, in Luxembourg, where she also volunteered to develop and deliver a workshop for the gallery's children's program.

To this day, her contributions to the sector are recognised through invitations to exhibit and speak around Australia. In 2013, Courtney became a volunteer mentor with the YWCA-run Y Bloom Program, through this program, she mentored a group of young female high school students at a crucial period in their adolescent lives.

David Lewis

Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

David will graduate in 2015 with dual degrees in law and business. He has had strong involvement in student life at QUT. He is the founder and president of the QUT Running Society, which received an award for the best new sports club in 2012 at QUT. In this role, David has been a key stakeholder in the 2013 and 2014 QUT Classic. He is currently the Vice President of the QUT Guild, and is also the QUT Guild Director of Sport, where he has oversight of QUT's 18 sports clubs, and he assists with the Australian University Games. He is involved with an array of other communities and boards through his involvement with the QUT Guild.

He is a member of the QUT Law Society, QUT Golden Key International Honour Society, the QUT Accounting Association, QUT Economics and Finance Society and the QUT Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Club.

David has also been involved in a variety of community activities. From 2010 to 2013 he was a volunteer clarinet player in the Queensland Wind and Brass, which performed in the Queen Street Mall and in Stanthorpe. He also volunteers at Spink Legal as a legal assistant, where he spends 2 days a week assisting clients by drafting wills and conveyances, and assists in preparing, lodging and submitting court documents. In 2011, David organised friends and family to assist those affected by the floods.

David was awarded the School of Management Teamwork Prize for the highest grade in his 'Working in Business' Assessment One. In 2013, he further developed his study by undertaking an overseas course at Oxford University in European Business Law.

Ben McGarry

Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

Ben will be graduating later this year with a degree in nursing.

He has been extremely involved at the QUT Caboolture Campus, and is the Student Representative on the Caboolture Campus Equity Committee and raised awareness of issues around international and socially disadvantaged students. He has been both a peer and library adviser, and is a student ambassador as well.

Ben has played an important role in nursing. In particular, he founded a student support group to assist male nursing students to better cope in a profession which is currently overwhelmingly female. He has actively assisted the School of Nursing in a variety of their endeavours, including student recruitment campaigns, and has been a bioscience laboratory demonstrator.

Ben spoke at the Vice Chancellor's Sunshine Coast Principal's breakfast in 2012. He has also participated in the Learning Potential Fund Breakfasts, as well as the Learning Potential Fund Riverfire Celebrations, all of which are part of his duties as a Learning Potential Fund Ambassador.

In 2013, Ben volunteered in several health centres in Palestine, an orphanage in Cambodia, and he set up an appeal in Sri Lanka for those struggling to recuperate from the Boxing Day Tsunami. He participated in a Nursing Outbound Program in Stavanger, Norway, and in 2010, he was an ESL teacher in Italy.

On top of an extraordinarily busy volunteer student life, Ben has a current GPA of 6.92, showing his continued devotion to academic excellence.

Stacey Percival

Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

Stacey will be graduating later this year with dual Bachelor degrees in Law and Information Technology.

Being among the most active student leaders at QUT since 2010, Stacey is currently a member of QUT Council, and from December 2010 to November 2013 she was a member of the QUT Student Guild. She has been the QUT Guild Secretary and the Guild Academic Rights and Welfare Director. As part of her responsibilities within the Student Guild, she has participated in a variety of QUT Boards and Committees including the University Academic Board, Appeals Committee, Learning & Teaching Committee, Academic Policy and Procedures Committee, Equity Board, and the Student Misconduct Committee, to name but a few.

She has also played an active role in faculty boards and committees, including the Business Academic Misconduct Committee, Business Exclusions Committee, Creative Industries Academic Misconduct Committee, and the Creative Industries Exclusions Committee.

Stacey has been involved in a variety of other student activities. She was a founding member of the IT Student Association in 2010, part of the IT Peer Mentor Program and an Orientation Week Student Leader, and was also an EPIC Campaign Manager.

In addition to all of her activities at QUT, she currently works as an undergraduate legal assistant at Byrne Law. In this role, she advocates for victims of domestic violence and children of divorce.

Zachary Van Haaften-Thompson

Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

Zac is expected to graduate in 2015 with a Bachelor of Business (Management).

Zac has been involved in a large number of QUT organisations. He is currently president and former community consultant of QUT Big Lift, is an exchange buddy, a connector and campus life program volunteer, a volunteer for Institute of Future Environments, and is part of the College of Excellence, student life and campus crusade, Project Unknown, the Economics and Finance Society, and the QUT Leadership Development and Innovation Program. He has also been involved with the QUT Gardens Theatre and has participated in the Career Mentor Scheme.

Zac has been an ambassador for several QUT areas including the Learning Potential Fund, Explore Uni, and the QUT Business School.

He has been involved with the community organisation, Oaktree, since 2013, both as a team member and a facilitator. The objective of this organisation is for young people to lead the movement to end poverty, including the raising of funds for young people in East Timor, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

In what little spare time he has, Zac plays AFL for the Redcliffe Tigers. He is the second oldest of nine siblings and is very passionate about helping his parents, when he can, while striving to be a good role model for his younger siblings.

Thomas Davies

Special Excellence Award Winner
Student Leadership Excellence Award Winner

In 2007, Tom's older brother, Josh, a Dean's Scholar at QUT, took his own life. Four years later, in 2011, Tom began his studies at QUT. His brother's tragedy sparked a passion within him to help fight depression and mental health issues.

Tom founded and was president of the JED Project, named in honour of his brother. One purpose of this organisation is to raise awareness of youth suicide. As part of this project, and in conjunction with his friends and family, over the past three years, Tom has raised just shy of $50,000, all of which has gone to The Black Dog Institute. The Black Dog Institute is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by mood disorders through research, clinical expertise and education. These fundraising efforts have led him to be interviewed by 612 ABC three times, most recently for World Suicide Prevention Day in 2013. He plans to expand his JED Project initiative after graduation.

Past award winners

2013 winners

Student Leader of the Year
Brody Foy
Student Leadership Excellence Award and Special Excellence Award
Kerryn Chung
Student Leadership Excellence Award
Kassandra Buckle
Joel Fernandes
Laura McCosker
Daniel Nutley
Laura Pegg
Manisha Senadeera
Elisabeth Snow
Luke Swetman

2012 winners

Student Leader of the Year
Erin Gregor
Student Leadership Excellence Award
Wadzanai Chiwira
Rebecca Daynes
Jodie Farthing
Louise McDonald
Kirralee Parsons
Natalie Reason
Edward Robinson
Jonathan Row
Peter Von Einem

2011 winners

Student Leader of the Year
Jeremy Baldwin
Student Leadership Excellence Award
Melanie Arnost
Michael Attard
Ashley Duggan
Ivan Ingram
Liqin (Jessica) Kong
Laura Parker
Ngam Kim Truong
Yeting (Vivian) Xiao
Brigitte Yap

2010 winners

Student Leader of the Year
Arlou Arteta
Student Leadership Excellence Award
Darren Cann
Ashleigh Coome
Anja Homburg
Lisa Kingsberry
Karen Lewis
Naleesha Niranjan
Stephanie Parkin
Benjamin Schostakowski
Daniel Townson

2009 winners

Student Leader of the Year
Katrina Bukauskas
Student Leadership Excellence Award
Tara Haskins
Deanna Hood
Tanya Kretschmann
Madeline McIntyre
Penelope Mee Lee
Chloe Parker
Renee Robbie
Robyn Shenfield
Petrina Underwood

2008 winners

Student Leader of the Year
Sarah Moran
Student Leadership Excellence Award
David Adams
Yasotha Balakrishnan
Daniel Brennan
Kelly McNamara
Ellen Nicholas
Timothy O'Shea
Tiara Shaqif
Helen Stylianou
James Ward

2007 winners

Student Leader of the Year
Michelle Mills
Student Leadership Excellence Award
Michael D'Onofrio
Sandi Dawson
Shane Degen
Samantha Laidlaw Thompson
Yen Ngo
Rebecca Shaw
James Tilbury
Ashlea White
Helena Wu

2006 winners

Student Leader of the Year
Alison Macintyre
Student Leadership Excellence Awards
Hayley Angell
Nemenja Antic
Deanna Borland-Sentinella
Joshua Caerio
Lauren Carr
Sandra Kafrouni
Damian Leonard
Nikketah McGrath
John Zunker

2005 winners

Student Leader of the Year
Rachael Truscott
Student Leadership Excellence Awards
Anna Crossin
Emmelene Gray
Chandni Gupta
Ruth Hosking
Kristiana Kilvert
Leanne Linard
Meggie Palmer
Bridie Scott-Parker


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