ECU graduation becomes a family affair

Gaydre Scholtz (centre) with her daughters Taryn and Nikita. Picture: ECU
Gaydre Scholtz (centre) with her daughters Taryn and Nikita. Picture: ECU

GRADUATION was a family affair for an Iluka mother and her two daughters who joined more than 1300 graduates at ECU ceremonies over the weekend.

Gaydre Scholtz received a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree, while her daughters Taryn and Nikita both received Bachelors of Business.

All three have been invited to join international honour society Golden Key, which comprises the top 15 per cent of university students from around the world.

Making the occasion even more memorable was the presence of husband and father Rob Scholtz, who flew in from South Africa – where he’s based for work – to watch the trio collect their degrees.

After the family moved to Australia from South Africa five years ago, Nikita and Taryn started their degrees at ECU.

Mrs Scholtz, who had previously worked as a nurse, needed to complete a degree so she could work as a registered nurse.

“Getting back into study was quite daunting,” she said.

“Never could I have imagined we would be studying together.

“But it’s been a really positive experience to be able to share with my daughters.

“The girls were a little sceptical about me studying with them at first, but then they were really excited.”

For Taryn, having both her mother and sister at the same university made for a unusual experience.

“Being around campus, bumping into each other and going for coffee was fun – we were able to show mum the uni life,” she said.

“We would also help each other out with study, exams and I could help teach them things like how to reference.”

Nikita said despite the challenges they’ve faced, it was all worth it.

“Graduating together is the end of a long and hard road we all walked together the past four years and being able to celebrate together is what the moment will be about for me,” she said.

Since completing their studies, Nikita has secured a job working with professional services firm EY, Taryn is planning to teach English in Japan and their mother is working towards confirming her nursing registration.

Mother and daughters celebrate graduating together.

Honorary degrees awarded to community leaders

Four more women at ECU graduation ceremonies received honorary degrees, including Tanya Dupagne who was named an honorary Doctor of the University.

Ms Dupagne is a community leader who founded Camp Kulin, a renowned summer camp for trauma-affected children, in 2013.

An ECU alumna, Ms Dupagne has made a significant impact in rural and regional communities by driving positive change, particularly for young people and women.

She is also a Churchill Fellow, won the 2017 national AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award and received a Westpac Social Change Fellowship in February 2019.

Another honorary Doctor of the University recipient, Rishelle Hume, was the 2016 Western Australian of the Year in the Aboriginal category for her leadership and dedication to the advancement of Aboriginal people.

Currently managing Chevron Australia’s aboriginal employment strategy, Ms Hume has dedicated more than 25 years to improving employment, education, justice and health for Aboriginal people.

Justice Carmel McLure AC, QC received a honorary Doctor of Laws in recognition of her career in law as the first female president of the Court of Appeal of WA.

In 2016 she was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent services to the law and to the community.

Professor Address Malata received an honorary Doctor of Nursing as a leader in the global development of nursing and midwifery education and in improving maternal health in sub-Saharan Africa.

She is Vice-Chancellor of the Malawi University of Science and Technology, the first female to hold such a position in her country.

Professor Malata also received the inaugural ECU Distinguished Alumni Award in April.