Graduate Mr Dylan Sheaves, who lives in rural Sodwalls (between Bathurst and Lithgow NSW) graduated in the Charles Sturt School of Computing, Mathematics and Engineering with a Bachelor of Computer Sciences (with Specialisation) when his award was conferred with more than 3,200 Charles Sturt graduates on Friday 3 December.
Dylan, who is the first in his family to attend university, was born in Penrith, and, apart from his last two years of primary school in Gulgong, grew up in Lithgow where he completed his HSC.
“Honestly, receiving the University Medal is a massive honour,” Dylan said. “It also imparts a sense of recognition for my hard work, and that’s something I truly appreciate.”
After he finished high school Dylan attended the University in Bathurst, but he said much of his degree was unfortunately studied online due to the pandemic.
“I found this very distressing because I’m very much a face-to-face learner at heart and having to work online didn’t suit me,” he said.
“But this was mostly a personal motivation issue and I overcame it much like I do most comparable issues.
“I knew how well I could do, and I simply did not wish to disappoint myself by letting something so comparatively small stop me, so perseverance prevailed it seems.”
Dylan said he has always been drawn to computers, and programming in particular.
“It always fascinated me how computers work and what needs to be done to get certain tasks performed quickly and efficiently,” he said. “Even from a young age I was often more interested in dissecting how my video games worked and making my own than actually playing them.”
Dylan said the lecturers at Charles Sturt were very well versed in the industries that they were teaching about and had a lot of hands-on experience.
“This helped keep the classes from feeling like they were simply coming from some dusty old tome and more like they were imparting things that were relevant to the field the degree is supposed to qualify students for,” he said.
“That hands-on wisdom is invaluable in grounding this sort of education, otherwise it’s far too easy to get caught up in the minutiae of things that may not be of any practical use.”
Dylan said he thinks graduation ceremonies are very important to give students their due acknowledgement for their hard work and achievements.
“Studying a degree of any sort is a big commitment and a lot of hard work to complete, so the students deserve recognition for this and that is what a graduation ceremony provides,” he said.
“Even though I can be sort of reclusive, this is also why I’ll be making a point to attend my postponed ceremony and knowing there’s a University Medal waiting for me also helps a little.”
On behalf of the School, Senior Lecturer in Mathematics and Statistics Dr Robert Wood congratulated Dylan, saying, “The University Medal is the highest honour that a student can receive and is truly an accomplishment”.
Dr Wood explained that to receive the University Medal, a student has to receive High Distinctions (HDs) in nearly all their subjects. If a student receives all HDs they will receive a Grade Point Average (GPA) of seven.
“Dylan received a GPA of 6.88, so not only does it indicate brains, but also a great work ethic, as brains alone will not get you a University Medal,” Dr Wood said.
He praised Dylan as a person who can work independently, is highly motivated and creative, and his work and thinking style has impressed his peers and lecturers.
“Dylan was an excellent team player, cooperating with other students in a real-world final-year project, which achieved outstanding results,” he said. “During the project development he demonstrated his initiative and leadership, and he always volunteered to tackle the most challenging part of the work.
“I always knew he was good, and I would always mark his assignments or exams first. I would do this so that I could check my solutions for mistakes prior to marking the rest of the assignments, in particular the final exam.
“I actually think he could’ve taught me two mathematics subjects in which he received HDs and close to 100 per cent in both of these subjects.”
Dr Wood noted that besides winning a University Medal, Mr Sheaves also:
- attained the Executive Dean’s List six times, every session he was at Charles Sturt
- received the School of Computing, Mathematics and Engineering Award for Academic Excellence in Information Technology
- received the Devro Project Management Encouragement Award
“And finally, his favoured classes are Java Programming, Data Structures, and Mathematics, which I find disappointing as he didn’t list mathematics as his first,” Mr Wood said.
“Dylan is from Lithgow and will serve the region after graduation. I’m sure he will be a great ambassador for our local region and Charles Sturt University.”
Dylan said he intends to eventually move into a career in education, however he would also like to continue further study first and is exploring postgraduate study options now.
“I’ve very much been a career student up until this point, so knowing that at least for now I’ve finished studying seems almost anathema to me, though it really does give a sense of closure to all the hard work I’ve put in thus far, and that’s a good feeling,” he said.
“Eventually I would like a career in education,
to pass on both what I’ve learned as well as my personal passion for computer
sciences to others, hopefully to help cultivate others’ abilities so they can
achieve their own dreams.”
His advice for any prospective student?
“For people hesitant about pursuing further education, well, honestly the best thing to do is just take the plunge and get started ─ taking that first step is the hardest part,” he said.