Inspirational ceremonies for new Murdoch grads

February 19, 2018

Murdoch graduates

Hats off! Murdoch graduates celebrate their achievements

Two-thousand of Murdoch’s newest graduates have been honoured in four ceremonies over six days, with fireworks and words of wisdom from Hollywood icon Judy Garland featuring.

Two honorary degrees were also awarded in the February events, and 21 PhD researchers graduated, as they joined Murdoch’s growing family of more than 73,000 alumni around the globe.

Speaking at the ceremonies, Vice Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen outlined the highs and lows of life on a university campus, and congratulated the students on their hard work and perseverance in achieving their academic goals.

“I have experienced this myself, when we seem to ‘hit these walls’ – when we truly believe that we have no more capacity to understand, when the tasks ahead of us seem quite frankly impossible,” Professor Leinonen said. “And then, quite remarkably, we get over the real or imagined roadblocks, the mental blocks, and off we go again, and our learning journey continues.”

Then borrowing from silver screen actress Garland, Professor Leinonen reminded the graduating students to always believe in themselves.

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else,” she said.

Professor Leinonen’s words of encouragement were echoed at the final ceremony on February 16 by honorary degree recipient Jan Owen AM, chief executive officer at the Foundation for Young Australians. She was nominated by the Vice Chancellor for decades devoted to enhancing the lives of young people.

Murdoch honour: Deputy Chancellor Ross Holt with honourary degree recipient Jan Owen AM (middle) and Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen

University honour: Deputy Chancellor Ross Holt with honourary degree recipient Jan Owen AM (middle) and Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen

Ms Owen told those gathered that fresh ideas and keen young minds would safeguard the planet and the lives of millions of people during a time of rising inequality and ageing populations.

“We are facing significant global challenges: the very survival of the planet, rising inequality where one per cent of the planet own 99 per cent of the wealth, and in Australia, an ageing population which will see our workforce decrease to 2.5 workers for every five retirees in the decades to come.”

She praised young inventors for their exceptional technological skills, their empathy and their commitment to improving the lives of others.

“I have spent decades working with children and young people and I have never encountered so many with the hearts and minds to make the world a fairer, more equal, more inclusive place,” Ms Owen said.

She added that young entrepreneurs and future leaders were limited only by their own imaginations, and she too borrowed words of wisdom from poet Mary Oliver when she encouraged the graduating students to ask themselves: "So what is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?”

Pioneering landscape architect Dr Marion Blackwell AM, who created Murdoch University’s renowned bush campus setting, and is a member of the Oder of Australia for her ground-breaking bush conservation programs, was also awarded an honorary doctorate.

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