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Trailblazers receive CQUniversity Alumni Awards

[by Mary Bolling]

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Dr Marjad Page. Image: supplied

They’ve built careers around empowering people and communities, and the four recipients of CQUniversity’s 2022 Alumni Awards are proof that passion can change lives, and achieve "impossible" dreams.

The annual awards recognise high-achieving graduates across four categories, and the 2022 recipients represent CQUniversity’s diverse student cohort.

Overcoming challenges including not finishing high school, family breakdown, discrimination and distance, the inspiring alumni have founded organisations, championed causes, and created change, all driven by their determination for building a better world.

They are:

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year: Dr Marjad Page, Bachelor of Human Movement Science (2002)

Alumnus of the Year for Social Impact: Selina Tomasich, Master of Human Resources (2007)

Alumnus of the Year for Early Career Achievement: Nareeta Davis, Bachelor of Laws (2017)

Alumnus of the Year for Industry Excellence: Aidan Baron, Bachelor of Science (Hons) 2017, Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ultrasound (2018)

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp paid tribute to the recipients, saying they reflected CQUniversity’s values of leadership, openness, and can-do attitude.

“Across their inspiring careers these alumni have refused to accept the status quo, and created innovative solutions to a huge raft of social challenges in Australia, and globally,” Professor Klomp said.

“More than that, they’ve proven themselves true trailblazers, developing the skills and knowledge to empower the people around them, across their teams and communities.”

“These are qualities we’re proud to foster at CQUniversity, through our commitment to life-changing education, and I congratulate the Alumni Award winners for their achievements.”

Dr Marjad Page is Senior Medical Officer at Kambu Health in Ipswich, and was previously the Chief Medical Officer with Gidgee Healing health services in Mt Isa, and the first traditional owner to practice medicine on Kalkadoon lands.

The proud Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Gangalidda practitioner said growing up in Mt Isa, his dream of becoming a doctor often felt impossible – but completing his Human Movement Science degree at CQU in Rockhampton was a vital step.

“If it wasn’t for the support at CQU, the connection I had to community in Rockhampton, and I honestly believe I wouldn’t have graduated, and I wouldn’t have become a doctor,” he said.

“Before that, I’d only ever done one assignment when I was at high school, I didn’t know how to reference properly – I learnt all that at CQU, and that then got me through medicine.”

Dr Page’s health outreach and ground-breaking research has influenced public policy and community wellbeing. He has developed a unique diagnostic tool for identifying Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, ensured health providers support pregnant and new mothers with culturally-aware care, and drove a focus on Indigenous end of life rituals in palliative care procedures.

Ms Tomasich also used her CQU degree to launch big things, taking her project management and logistics learnings to create international not-for-profit Hair Aid in 2010.

As CEO of the global anti-poverty initiative, Ms Tomasich coordinates projects to the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand, where volunteer hairdressers train unemployed local women to cut hair, and provides them with tools and infrastructure to earn income and support their families.

The Brisbane-based organisation also runs Hair Aid Community Cuts in 80 communities across Australia, providing free haircuts to people in need.

Ms Tomasich, who also has a career in higher education, never finished high school, and said studying online with CQUniversity was an obvious choice.

“I’d done my research and throughout the degree I never felt disconnected – in fact, I’d often talk to lecturers and fellow students about what I was trying to achieve, and they would help. That experience absolutely springboarded me into what I was able to create with Hair Aid. I had the knowledge, thought not necessarily the experience - but it gave me the confidence to move forward.”

Ms Davis and Mr Baron also took inspiration from their CQUniversity studies to grow impact-led careers.

At 35, the Cairns mother of two took on a bridging program into her Bachelor of Laws, determined to support disadvantaged communities through her practice, and her experience as a descendant of the Kullili Thargomindah people of Purga Mission, Ipswich.

Now a Solicitor at Holding Redlich Lawyers, Pro Bono Division, Ms Davis was last year recognised as Queensland Law Society’s First Nations Solicitor of the Year, while also providing leadership on numerous boards and in student outreach programs.

Mr Baron used his Honours research into ultrasound-guided intravenous cannulation, and his Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ultrasound, to launch The PoCUS Course, an international training program for Point of Care Ultrasound.

He’s also a leader in research, especially how social media impacts health care delivery, and best practice for inclusive LGBTQIA+ health care.

CQUniversity will share the Alumni Award winners’ stories on the latest series of its podcast How to Change a Life.

Search “How to Change a Life” on your podcast app, and select “follow” to receive alerts for weekly episodes from Thursday 3 March 2022.

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