Front and centre

Yes I was as the Graduations mace bearer this very hot week on Wednesday morning. I work closely with the Graduations team given students officially become alumni (gradaunds to graduates) once they’ve completed their studies receiving their testamur certificates from senior University staff in front of their peers and families. The Graduations team held three ceremomies a day this week so it’s a full production.


It felt a bit Game of Thrones protecting one of the Deputy Chancellors this week who sits in a very regal looking chair on stage and it’s quite formal with the mace bearer having to bow to them as well as the audience once the academic procession has made it to the stage and walking in reverse order after the ceremony. I hadn’t donned an academic gown since my own graduation many years ago so I did relish the experience. It was nice to end the year on a literal high looking out at the audience below.

My office helps provide a number of high profile alumni to give the occasional address and this week’s speakers included Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, filmmaker Eve Ash as well as two Young Alumni whom I shepherded – Coconut Bowls founder Jake McKeon (who appeared on Shark Tank and declined the money!) at the 1.30pm ceremony on Wednesday and Paralympian Dr Hannah Macdougall at the 9.30am ceremony on Thursday who did her Phd on athlete wellbeing and is also a mindfulness expert. All of them were highly impressive speakers who talked about their career journeys (and detours along the way).

Jake McKeon, Founder Coconut Bowls

Jake and his partner Dr Renee Cachia from Inner Bloom (who also studied at La Trobe) are also living the dream moving to Byron Bay to work on Jake’s business with him as a digital nomad and Renee as a psychologist with her own private practice. It all sounded very Chris Hemsworth…who they apparently do see around the place.

Dr Hannah Macdougall

I didn’t attend Eve Ash’s ceremony at 1.30pm on Thursday but her True Crime TV series Undercurrent: Real Murder Investigations aired earlier this year on Channel 7 and her own life story Man On The Bus about finding her biological father who was in the audience (now in his 90s and officially Australia’s oldest living land surveyor who still works full-time) and who named streets after her and her mother is fascinating. She talked about confidence and persistence being key qualities we need to nurture in ourselves and focusing on the positive land of ‘W’ – wanting to achieve, willing to learn and working effectively instead of the negative equivalent of wishing, whining and wasting time.

You can watch all the ceremonies on livestream if you’re interested. School’s out for summer and it’s officially holiday time for most of us so stay cool today!