The 2015 RMIT Honorary Awards and Graduation Ceremony was held on Friday 22 May at Storey Hall.

About the recipients

Reem Yehdego was awarded the Patricia Guthrie Memorial award and the RMIT Award for Higher Education

Jean-Luc Joseph Tambasco was awarded the J.N. McNicol Prize

Rosemary Grace Metcalfe was awarded the RMIT Award for Vocational Education

Lisa Negri was the recipient of the Francis Ormond Medal

Guosheng Chen was the recipient of the Ralph McIntosh Medal.

Doctoral graduates

The Ceremony celebrated the achievements of 42 doctoral students from the colleges of Business, Design and Social Context, and Science, Engineering and Health. The students’ combined years of dedication to research within their respective fields has contributed invaluable knowledge that benefits the communities in which we operate.

Reem Yehdego

The RMIT Award for Higher Education is presented annually to a bachelor degree graduate who has displayed leadership potential and initiative and has an excellent academic record.

The Patricia Guthrie Memorial Award prize is provided through the generosity of the Guthrie family and is awarded in commemoration of Patricia Guthrie, who was RMIT’s first female head of the TAFE School of Communication and Social Science, and a valued and respected member of RMIT staff. This award is based on academic excellence, social awareness, and involvement in community affairs.

Reem Yehdego was conferred with the degree – Bachelor of Social Science (Legal and Dispute Studies) with Distinction. She graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.6, achieving the top GPA in 2014 for students graduating from this program.

Reem has been an exemplary student who demonstrates thoughtfulness, initiative and excellent peer leadership. Her high level conceptual skills have enabled her to tackle justice and legal issues in innovative and creative ways.

In 2011, she co-founded the IMARA Youth Advocacy Group to promote law and policy reforms around issues of racism and discriminatory policing. The Group helps to give a voice to young people from migrant communities on these critical issues.

In 2013, Reem – in conjunction with the Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre – convened the inaugural People’s Hearing into Racism and Policing in Melbourne. This initiative employed mediation and storytelling to engage the community around issues of police violence and racial profiling. Its success contributed to important changes in the policing of marginalised communities, including an innovative receipting practice.

Reem’s academic and extra-curricular works clearly demonstrate her capacity for leadership and her ability to tackle complex issues in an accessible way. She has engaged with diverse groups to enact real change, including community members, government and media.

Reem has been accepted into the Justice and Legal honours program where her thesis will focus on gender and grassroots organising.

Jean-Luc Joseph Tambasco

Jean-Luc Tambasco was conferred with the degree – Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) (Honours). Throughout his studies he attained High Distinctions in all courses, resulting in a perfect GPA of 4.0.

Among his lecturers’ accolades, Jean-Luc has been described as an outstanding student, a superb student ambassador and – with his depth of curiosity, initiative and pursuit of excellence – one of Australia’s future scientific leaders.

In 2014, Jean-Luc was invited to participate in the annual meeting of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh Bandwith Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) – where he presented to world leaders in photonics. The research he conducted for his final year major project has made genuinely new contributions to the field and is publishable in an academic journal.

In his own words, Jean-Luc’s devotion to education is not limited to engineering. During the course of his studies, he represented his fellow students on the Student Staff Consultative Committee, as well as facilitating help sessions for second year electrical engineering students.

He has volunteered in the community, taught French and Italian to adults, and participated in his local homework club – helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds with their schoolwork.

Jean-Luc has been awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) to continue his studies towards a PhD, which he is currently undertaking at RMIT.

Rosemary Grace Metcalfe

In 2014, Rosemary was granted the Advanced Diploma of Business (Public Relations). She achieved a perfect GPA score of 4.0. In addition to her academic success, Rosemary has exhibited leadership potential in her extra-curricular roles. In 2014, she undertook an internship with Senate SHJ and was subsequently offered a position as Client Executive. She is the youngest member of the Senate SHJ Melbourne team, but her initiative and strong leadership skills have made her a key participant in client meetings.

Rosemary has consistently demonstrated her commitment to education and to using her leadership skills to benefit the community. Last year, she was nominated by her school to represent her program at Open Day. As Program Assistant, Rosemary engaged with prospective students, their families and members of the public to assist them in their decision making.

Through Senate SHJ, Rosemary provided pro-bono assistance to two inspiring not-for-profit organisations: The Missing Persons Advocacy Group and the Skyline Education Foundation of Australia. She has also worked as a tutor and supervisor with NumberWorks’nWords, a company providing specialist English and numeracy tuition to children aged five to 16 years.

In 2014, Rosemary volunteered as a Communications Assistant for Federal MP Adam Bandt – directing teams, creating official campaign documents, and implementing public relation strategies.

Rosemary is currently studying the Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) program at RMIT.

Lisa Negri

Lisa Negri started work at RMIT more than 25 years ago and is currently Senior Advisor, Safer Community in the Students Group.

She has worked as a secretary in context curriculum, as Academic and Student Services Manager in Architecture and Interior Design, and later in the Faculty of the Constructed Environment, and the College of Design and Social Context.

Ms Negri was the Manager of Student Feedback with the Quality Unit and the University’s Manager, Complaints and Fairness, before moving to her current Safer Community role.

Lisa’s colleagues have described her as someone whose commitment to fostering, and actively enhancing a collegial environment marks her long service to the university as exemplary.

“On a daily basis, Lisa provides advice on matters of safety to staff, advising and assisting on strategies to manage ‘concerning’ and ‘high-risk’ student behaviour.

These behaviours are often associated with mental health conditions that are undiagnosed or inadequately treated. Staff , and other students, find these behaviours unsettling, confronting and outside their sphere of experience.

“Lisa is brave. She’s prepared to have the tough conversations with students that many would run a mile from. These conversations are always respectful and constructive, clear and, most of all, fair.

“She seeks to understand the student’s circumstance and for students to understand the University’s concerns and to achieve a balanced outcome.

Another of her nominees says “Lisa is dedicated to her role, recognises that sometimes the welfare of young people is time-sensitive, and clearly has a passion for always doing the right thing… in other organisations I have worked with many people in similar roles, but seldom have I seen a person with such sustained dedication and passion.

Guosheng Chen

Mrs Chen is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies. She started work at RMIT in 1993, to build up our languages programs. In the early days, she single-handedly co-ordinated most of Higher Education and Vocational Education language programs, and is responsible for creating the highly successful and respected discipline that exists here today.

As the demand for language programs grew, Mrs Chen expanded the team. It now comprises eight full-time academic staff members, two in each of the most popular language programs – Chinese, French, Japanese and Spanish – as well as a large team of sessional teachers, and two professional staff.

Mrs Chen is a highly regarded teacher, colleague and discipline leader, and is respected by people across the University, and beyond, for her hard work and overwhelming commitment to students and language education.

She has initiated many successful activities within and beyond the Language discipline, and has forged strong relationships with staff members RMIT-wide – from Business to Chinese Medicine, from the Confucius Institute to Media and Communications; as well as with numerous local and international partners, and diplomats representing the countries where the taught languages originate, particularly China. She has led national and state teams on a number of significant language curriculum development projects that enrich students’ knowledge and overall capability development.

Her nominees and colleagues in Languages have said that: “As a teacher and mentor, she has had a huge impact on the lives of her students by inspiring them to be global citizens and to pursue a global career. She cares deeply and passionately for her students and has consistently gone beyond the call of duty to help students across RMIT find their ways to success in both professional and personal life.

“Another referee says: ““She has seemingly boundless energy and passion for language learning and for the experiences this can bring to students and the doors that it can open for them. Students have always been at the forefront of all Guosheng’s activities at RMIT.

“I would consider the awarding of this medal to Guosheng as more than appropriate recognition of her incredible contribution over many years.”