UNE graduation ceremony an international affair

Published 25 March 2011

mary-okanePeople travelled to Armidale from around Australia and around the world to graduate from the University of New England in a ceremony at the University today.

During the ceremony the Chancellor of UNE, Dr Richard Torbay, presented about 200 graduands in the Sciences, Health and Medicine with their awards.

Those who came from abroad included Mitra Rashidian, who travelled from her home in Los Angeles where she works as a psychotherapist. While conducting her PhD research and preparing her thesis, titled Understanding the Sexual-selves of Iranian-American Women: A Qualitative Study, Dr Rashidian visited UNE several times. “And I decided definitely to be here for Graduation,” she said. “It’s an honour and a pleasure to be here in this wonderful place that’s given me so much.”

Another graduand from overseas was Tanongson Tienthavorn, who travelled from Thailand with his father, Dr Vichai Tienthavorn, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Payao in Thailand. Dr Tienthavorn, who works at an army hospital and medical college in Thailand, spent four-and-a-half years at UNE studying towards the Doctor of Health Services Management degree he was presented with today. His thesis is titled Managing Pre-hospital Emergency Medical Services of Road Traffic Injuries in Khon Kaen Province, Thailand.

Jennifer Wood from Tamworth graduated with the degree of Doctor of Philosophy cum laude. She is UNE’s first PhD graduate to gain the recently introduced cum laude distinction, which means that her thesis, titled The Influence of Seed Morphology, Ultra-structure and Chemistry on the Milling Quality of Chickpea,  was passed – without the need for any alteration – by all three of her examiners.

Dr Wood studied for her PhD and published several scientific articles while working as a researcher at Tamworth Agricultural Institute and having two children.

The guest speaker at today’s graduation ceremony was Professor Mary O’Kane, NSW Chief Scientist and Scientific Engineer.

Professor O’Kane (pictured above), after observing that UNE had entered its own “era of productivity” over the past few years, urged the graduands to contribute to the nation’s productivity in their future careers by being innovative. “Innovation is the driver of productivity,” she said, “and intrinsic to maintaining our way of life.”

She noted that, after a period of growth in the 1990s, Australia’s productivity had declined since 2003 – a decline exacerbated by factors such as an ageing population and climate change. “This is where you come into the picture,” she told the graduands. “Your country needs you.”

The graduation ceremony at UNE tomorrow (Saturday 26 March), will be for the discipline of Education.