Four years of dedication and hard work have paid off for Port Macquarie resident Ms Winona Graham (pictured above with her parents), who is ending this year celebrating a very important milestone.
Not only has she just graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) from Charles Sturt University School of Psychology, she’s also been awarded a prestigious University Medal in recognition of her outstanding academic achievements.
Winona’s achievements are a particularly proud moment for her family, especially because she is the first person in her family to graduate from university.
“My mum was so excited that she insisted we travel from Port Macquarie to Bathurst so I could get a photo in my graduation gown accepting the University Medal in person,” Winona said.
“My dad rarely takes the day off work, but he said he would not miss my graduation for anything, and he drove us to Bathurst. My aunty was so excited about my graduation that she called me every week in the lead up to my grade release to ask if I had heard anything new.”
When Winona finally got her marks back and found out she had not only made it to graduation but was receiving a University Medal, she was ecstatic.
“When I found out I was going to be the recipient of a University Medal, I was very excited and I felt honoured to be a part of the process,” Winona said.
“This award means the world to me. It demonstrates that my hard work, love of learning, and commitment to my studies has been recognised, respected, and valued.
“This award confirms that I have a solid foundation of psychological knowledge that I can use and build upon throughout my career.
“I feel that I now have the confidence and motivation I need to go forth and pursue a career as a registered psychologist.”
Even though she’s just graduated, Winona has already started to take the next step she needs to become a registered psychologist and has applied to study a Charles Sturt Master of Professional Psychology.
“My dream career is to be a registered psychologist and work with children and young people to promote their health and wellbeing,” she said.
“This is something I am very passionate about and it is why I chose for my dissertation research topic to investigate whether parenting styles are linked with parents’ views towards children having a say at school.
“What I find appealing about psychology is the discipline is so diverse and can help people in many ways, especially in terms of helping people find adaptive ways to cope.”
Winona’s plans for further study may not be that surprising to those who know her best – she has always been a high achiever and driven to succeed academically.
Having grown up in the Sydney suburb of Schofields, she was school captain in primary school and by her own admission, a very conscientious student in high school.
After finishing her Higher School Certificate, she moved with her family to Port Macquarie and decided she would stay there for university because she liked the strong sense of community spirit among the locals and its beach lifestyle.
During her time at Charles Sturt, she received several Executive Dean’s Awards for her outstanding coursework results.
“My parents have always supported and encouraged me to succeed in school, and I’ve always followed their advice to be a very conscientious student and try my best to excel in academic tasks,” she said.
“I am looking forward to continuing my studies with Charles Sturt University.
“There is a strong sense of community at the University and the psychology staff have offered me a lot of support throughout my degree, ensuring I felt listened to and understood, rather than just another number or anonymous face in the crowd.”
Charles Sturt remains committed to rescheduling its 2020 graduation ceremonies in 2021, with dates to be announced when COVID-19-related restrictions allow.