Meet our newest graduands

Meet our newest graduands

More than 9,000 students – a record number – will mark the transition from student to alumni when they officially became RMIT graduates at today’s ceremony. Here are three of their stories.

RMIT graduation is the University’s biggest event of the year, celebrating the diverse and talented graduating cohort.

Graduands from Vocational Education, Higher Education, Higher Degree by Research (PhD) will attend the ceremony at Marvel Stadium, in front of a crowd of approximately 40,000 people.

This year, Bachelor of Applied Science (Aviation) graduand Zachary Cattlin will become the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student to graduate from an aviation program at RMIT.

Bachelor of Applied Science (Aviation) graduand Zac Cattlin Bachelor of Applied Science (Aviation) graduand Zac Cattlin

Zac, whose family originates from the Wamba-Wamba Nation in the Murray Lower Darling Rivers, grew up with a passion for aviation, however never expected to turn it into a career.

“From a young age I was interested in aviation, but I never really thought it would take me anywhere,” he said.

“It wasn’t until I started my course that I began to love the industry. As I began to fly and learnt about the aircraft I started to enjoy it more.”

“I’d like to become a commercial pilot for a major airline and fly internationally.”

Coming to university, his biggest challenge was adapting from a country lifestyle to the hustle and bustle of the city, but he said the support of RMIT’s Ngarara Willim Centre helped with the transition.

“The Centre has been very supportive throughout my studies, and other Indigenous students are always willing to lend a hand, especially if you are having problems with anything regarding university or personal issues,” Zac said.

“The RMIT community was inviting and all my lecturers and flight instructors have been willing to help me at all times.”

After he graduates, Zac will be eligible to achieve his goal of becoming a commercial pilot.

Carmen Scalia has embraced study and said she'll continue to take every opportunity she can to build on her depth of knowledge Carmen Scalia has embraced taking every opportunity she can to build her skills and knowledge

Embracing lifelong learning

At an age where people are traditionally eyeing retirement, Carmen Scalia has embraced study.

The 62-year-old had always wanted to do a job that involved helping and supporting people, so she enrolled in the Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disability) to launch her career in the disability and aged care sector.

“RMIT has a great reputation for fantastic courses and I knew that RMIT would guarantee me a job,” she said.

The course was Carmen’s first experience with university, and she found she had to learn a lot more than she had initially expected.

“At the beginning it was very hard, especially having to learn how to use a computer, and I wanted to give up,” she said.

But it all paid off – before donning her graduation robes, she’d already found a job as an aged care worker.

“Now I can do everything! I’ve tried learning computer skills at other institutions, but I’ve only been able to finally master it at RMIT.

“My instructor was very patient with me and took one-on-one time with me to make sure I had the tech knowledge I need to complete my course.”

She now sends emails on the hop from her mobile phone and won’t stop there – she said she’ll continue to take every opportunity she can to build on her depth of knowledge.

“At my new job we are constantly updating our knowledge of aged care and upskilling to ensure we’re always providing great care,” she said.

“Constantly learning is important to me and makes me feel I am always keeping up in my field.”

Lakes Entrance local Phoebe Paterson aspires to a career where she can help keep the public safe Lakes Entrance local Phoebe Paterson aspires to a career where she can help keep the public safe

The road to creating a better world

For Bachelor of Criminal Justice graduand Phoebe Paterson, the path to graduation has been a challenging but rewarding one.

Born with a heart condition and hearing loss due to a deformed right ear, the Lakes Entrance native was regularly travelling from the coastal town in Victoria’s east to Melbourne for hospital visits.

At age 19, she found herself in Melbourne again – this time, relocating to pursue further study at RMIT.

Phoebe applied to study criminal justice because she always wanted to hold a career where she could help keep the public safe.

“The degree has helped me gain a better understanding of the criminal justice system and how I can help shape a better world for everyone,” she said.

It was overwhelming moving out for the first time alone, but an RMIT Study Support Scholarship helped ease the transition.

“The scholarship supported my move into RMIT village accommodation, which meant that right off the bat I was able to get a network of friends. The staff were also very helpful and I knew I could go to them if I had any issues,” she said.

Volunteering with the RMIT-run peer mentoring program SLAMs, helping international students learn English, was a highlight of her studies.

“I think I learned as much from the students as they learned from me – what their life was like, sharing our experiences.

“RMIT really allowed me to create these kinds of amazing connections, not just with the students from SLAMs, but also with other students in my course who share my passion for social justice.”

She said it was a surreal feeling to be graduating.

“I’ve worked so hard throughout my degree to get to this point, to better myself and my work.”


Story: Jasmijn van Houten

18 December 2019


18 December 2019


  • Society
  • Equality, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Student experience

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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