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Kyiesha set to join 1,400 students for Newcastle Uni graduation


Novocastrian Kyiesha Faulkner will join more than 1,400 pupils from around Australia, and the world, when they celebrate a major milestone this week.

The former Lambton High School student is set to graduate from the University of Newcastle (UoN) with a Bachelor of Global Indigenous Studies, which she combined with Law.

For the proud Gommeroi woman, her family was her biggest inspiration and motivation to study.

“My Nan lived on the common in a shelter made from hessian bags,” she said.

“So, I was determined to learn more about how I could better help my community.”

Kyiesha Faulkner with her Nan.

Kyiesha gained admittance into her degree via the Indigenous Early Entry Scheme.

While the transition from school to university is daunting for most, the youngster said she felt comforted knowing she would have a strong support network at The Wollotuka Institute, affectionately known as “Wolli”.

She’s now part-way through the Law component of her combined degree but has already made a tangible impact in the field.

Kyiesha was instrumental in the creation of the Indigenous Business Handbook, an information guide to help business owners understand their legal obligations.

Kyiesha Faulkner.

Graduation ceremonies will kick off at the Great Hall, Callaghan campus, on Wednesday 12 July, with School of Nursing pupils the first to cross the stage.

Among them will be consultant liaison nurse at Alice Springs Hospital, Sonia Bayley, who’s part of the cohort of Master of Mental Health Nursing students.

She helps assess patients with physical health conditions for underlying mental health conditions and wanted to pursue postgraduate study to progress to more senior roles in her career.

The UoN is home to the largest Master of Mental Health Nursing program in Australia, with close to 400 students graduating annually and 1,000 currently enrolled.

Sonia said she chose to study at Newcastle because of the flexibility to tailor the curriculum to suit her preferred subspeciality – forensics and epidemiology… and it came highly-recommended.

“I emailed the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses about studying at the UoN and they told me it was a great curriculum, so that was very reassuring,” she explained.

“We’re very short staffed in Alice Springs.

“Having this specialised training will go a long way to help the community we care for.”

Sonia is one of the many graduates of this internationally-recognised online program, who’s flying interstate to attend, and hear from occasional speaker NSW Health chief nursing and midwifery officer Jacqui Cross.

Convenor of Master of Mental Health Nursing Professor Rhonda Wilson said there had been a rapid rise in demand for the program over the past decade.

“Our graduates are highly-skilled to provide specialist treatment and care to the growing number of Australians with mental health conditions,” she stated.

“With financial stress from the rising cost of living, and delay in accessing face-to-face services during COVID-19 lockdowns, there has been an acceleration of people presenting with mental health conditions to our health services.

“We’re leading the discipline of mental health nursing education in Australia.

“Our program’s sought after by registered nurses to become specialised in mental health nursing in Australia and internationally.”

Climbing 19 places in the recently-announced 2024 QS World University Rankings, the UoN sits equal 173rd.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky AO said the graduating students had studied at one of the best universities in the world.

“Our strong links with industry and focus on work integrated learning means they can walk into jobs with the reassurance that they are ready to enter the workforce and make a difference,” he added.

“We are immensely proud to celebrate each and every one of our graduating students.

“I also welcome them as they now join our global network of almost 169,000 alumni who stretch across 153 countries around the globe.

“Every graduate has had a unique experience and no matter what path they have taken to reach this point, they have all shown dedication, commitment and resilience.

“For anyone who is feeling inspired by the stories of this cohort of graduates, we invite you to join us at the Central Coast Open Day on 29 July or the Newcastle Open Day on 26 August.”

Go to to learn more.

University Medallists Awardees

  • Natalie Gray: B Nutrition & Dietetics (Honours)
  • Alex Delbridge: B Physiotherapy (Honours)
  • Chloe Eather: B Medical Radiation Science (Honours) (Diagnostic Radiography)
  • Kirah-Lee Thomas: B Occupational Therapy (Honours)
  • Mitchell Burton: B Medical Radiation Science (Honours) (Nuclear Medicine)
  • Odessa Mullin: B Biomedical Science (Honours)
  • Elyse Mead: B Medical Science (Honours)
  • Shivani: B Education (Secondary) (Honours)
  • Tina Graham: B Teach (Technology) (Honours)
  • Carly Matthews: B Education (Primary) (Honours)
  • Hannah Titchmarsh: B Teaching (Early Child & Prim) (Honours)
  • Jemma Gillard: B Natural History Illustration (Honours)
  • Shea Evans: B Arts (Honours)
  • Jackson Turton: B Arts (Honours)
  • Ashleigh Kirkland: B Mechanical Engineering (Honours), B Mechatronics Engineering (Honours)
  • Hunter Bake-Smith: B Aerospace Systems Engineering (Honours)
  • Alexander Bennett: B Engineering (Honours) (Environmental)
  • Nicholas Gilbert: B Civil Engineering (Honours)
  • Douglas Pianta: B Surveying (Honours)
  • Claudia Smith: Master of Architecture
  • Jessica Haugh: B Renewable Energy Eng (Honours)
  • Thomas Vanderberg: B Science (Honours)
  • Myles Egan: B Development Studies (Honours)
  • Aditya Joshi: B Mathematics (Honours)

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