Cairns graduates step into a bright future

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Written By

Hannah Gray

Publish Date

16 April 2021

Answering the call to follow their passion

JCU Cairns graduates have gathered at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre to walk the stage and toss their caps. The opportunity to celebrate their achievements was much anticipated after ceremonies were postponed in March 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. As family and friends clapped, cheered, and snapped pictures of the proud graduates, the anticipation for graduation turned to excitement for the future.

Over two days and six ceremonies, more than 500 JCU Cairns graduands crossed the stage and entered the next chapter of their lives. With students from both the 2019 and 2020 cohorts in attendance, as well as many students with their degrees conferred in absentia, there were more than 900 graduates from JCU Cairns celebrated this year.

The chance to be officially recognised and celebrated for finishing their university studies was met with great elation. Graduate and new JCU Politics and International Relations alumni, Sena Kuukua Tsey, says that getting to celebrate her achievement felt like a rite of passage.

“This graduation made for one of the greatest days of my life,” Sena says. “It represents a turning point in my life, and I got to experience it all with my family and friends. I felt like I was reaping the benefits of my hard labour.”

Sena Kuukua Tsey at the Cairns graduation

Sena says that looking back over her university study, she can see how much her knowledge and confidence have grown. “University has shown me that I can achieve anything if I put my mind to it,” she says. “One thing that stood out to me in Andrea Della Mattea’s speech was ‘follow your passion’. I am determined to find my passion, pursue it, and make an impact in the world.”

Hearing the speakers at the Cairns graduations give encouragement, advice, and guidance, Sena was reminded of why she first chose to study. “I have worked to empower myself with knowledge through my education so that I can go into the world, especially into my country, Ghana, to make a difference by embracing my potential,” she says. “When Vice Chancellor Sandra Harding challenged us with the questions ‘Can you do what needs to be done?’ and ‘Will you do what needs to be done?’, I vowed to answer, ‘yes’.”

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