University Medals awarded to three of Port Macquarie’s most outstanding graduates


University Medals awarded to three of Port Macquarie’s most outstanding graduates

Three high performing students who will each be awarded a University Medal, the highest honour the University Council can confer on graduates, discuss their time at Charles Sturt and what this prestigious award means to them.

  • Charles Sturt to award three students University Medals at their upcoming graduation in Port Macquarie
  • Charles Sturt graduates Ms Jessica Denham, Mr Robert Jeffries and Mr Matthew Parisi will each receive a University Medal on Monday 9 December
  • The medals recognise students who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance

Three students will be awarded University Medals at Charles Sturt University’s (Charles Sturt) upcoming graduation ceremonies in Port Macquarie on Monday 9 December.

Charles Sturt graduates Ms Jessica Denham, Mr Robert Jeffries and Mr Matthew Parisi will each be awarded a University Medal for their outstanding commitment and performance during their studies.

Charles Sturt graduate Ms Jessica DenhamMs Denham’s (pictured) nine-year journey to obtaining her degree will soon be rewarded when she graduates with a Bachelor of Social Work, and she said being awarded a University Medal has made her graduation even more special.

The Port Macquarie local said she initially started university in 2010, but she took a break from studying for a few years following the birth of her son.

“When I was told I was being awarded the University Medal, I honestly just cried,” she said.

“Anyone who knows me knows I have certainly been on quite a journey with my studies.

“Being a single mum, juggling work, placement and study as well as maintaining some sanity and a social life wasn't always easy.

“Luckily, when I experienced some personal challenges I was able to get a study access plan to help alleviate some stress, which was just a massive support to get me through that difficult time."

Ms Denham said she is she is very proud of how far she has come in her studies and how her hard work and commitment to her studies helped to land her job in an industry where she can make a difference.

“I have been working with Liberty Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Services in Port Macquarie for the last two years,” Ms Denham said.

“I began in a ‘child and youth’ role two days a week while juggling placement and study and have not long moved to full-time in the ‘intake and assessment’ role.

“I feel so incredibly grateful to have the job that I do and to share space with so many incredible women on their journey.”

Although over the past nine years Ms Denham said she couldn’t wait for the day that she finally finished her studies, her university journey isn’t over yet.

“I have just accepted an offer to study a Master of Leadership in Human Services, with specialisation child, youth and families,” she said.

“I am super excited to start this course so I can expand my knowledge, but I do plan on taking my time with it and chipping away at it while working and juggling life.”

Charles Sturt graduate Mr Robert JeffriesFellow medal recipient Mr Jeffries (pictured) started studying with Charles Sturt online in 2016 and will travel to Port Macquarie from his hometown of Toowoomba to receive his Master of Educational Research.

The Head of Teaching and Learning for Preparatory through to Year Six at a private school in Toowoomba juggled full-time work and raising a family with his studies, and said being awarded a University Medal on top of his master’s degree has made everything worthwhile.

“Our third child arrived during my studies, so there were definitely some difficult periods during my studies,” Mr Jeffries said.

“I am truly humbled to be awarded a University Medal.

“I knew that I had done well and had a good grade point average, but had no idea about the University Medals or how they were awarded.”

Speaking of his degree, Mr Jeffries said, “I found this degree was the perfect way for me to gain some new skills and engage in professional renewal. 

“I developed a number of skills for both qualitative and quantitative research and analysing current research in the area of education.”

Charles Sturt graduate Mr Matthew ParisiMr Parisi (pictured), the third graduate who will receive a University Medal in Port Macquarie, has just completed a Bachelor of Computer Science with a specialisation in Games Programming.

The Port Macquarie local said he has always been interested in gaming and how games are made.

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to undertake further study in gaming with Charles Sturt and get support from the local campus in my hometown when I needed it,” Mr Parisi said.

“Being awarded the University Medal is validation that my efforts have been worth it and recognised.

“Studying at home can get a bit impersonal when you don't have that face-to face-contact with anyone, so it's hard to gauge how well you are doing outside of the marks you receive for assignments.

 “The medal will serve as a reminder to me that I can do just about anything, provided that I stick to it and put the work in.”

Now that he has graduated, Mr Parisi is excited to embark on a career in IT and is interested in a job as a software programmer and one day, a leadership or management role.

Charles Sturt’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students) Ms Jenny Roberts said the Charles Sturt University Medals recognise students who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance.

“I would like to congratulate Ms Denham, Mr Jeffries and Mr Parisi,” Ms Roberts said.

“Graduating from university is no mean feat, and to be awarded a University Medal is a truly outstanding accomplishment.

“Well done to all three of you and I wish you all the best with your careers.”

Charles Sturt University’s graduation ceremonies in Port Macquarie will be held at 9.30am, 2pm and 6pm on Monday 9 December at The Glasshouse, 30-42 Clarence Street and Hay Street, Port Macquarie.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews, contact Rebecca Tomkins at Charles Sturt Media on 02 6365 7111 or

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Port Macquarie Charles Sturt University