Renee Barber of Caloundra has snapped many magic moments as a seal encounter photographer at Sea Life Sunshine Coast at Mooloolaba.
But the focus will be on her tomorrow (Thursday 12 April) when she becomes the 20,000th graduate of the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Renee, 24, has completed a Bachelor of Social Work and is looking forward to her graduation ceremony at the Matthew Flinders Performance Centre at 6pm. She will be one of 1,700 people to graduate from USC this week.
The former Caloundra State High School student has worked at Sea Life for the past few years and, after taking some time off to travel, is keen to make a positive impact in her chosen career.
Renee said she had enjoyed studying at USC, especially doing placements at the Sunshine Coast Family Relationships Centre and with Queensland Health’s Community Support and Rehabilitation Team.
“I would really like to make a difference in the lives of the people I work with and give families the support that they otherwise wouldn’t get,” she said. “I want to help people deal with what’s going on in their lives, and give them something to help them move forward.
“The knowledge and experience I’ve gained from my study, especially from those two placements, is unreal and has been incredibly motivating for me.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill has congratulated Renee and presented her with a special certificate and a stunning scarf featuring artwork on display in the USC Chancellery.
Professor Hill said this was a significant milestone for the University, which opened in 1996 and held its first Graduation ceremony in 1999 with only 131 graduates.
“This is a clear indication of the University’s rapid growth and its important impact on the region,” Professor Hill said. “It was only six years ago that we celebrated our 10,000th graduate, and it won’t be long until we mark a similar occasion for our 30,000th graduate.”
Renee will become the second member of her family to graduate from USC, after her sister Sarah graduated last year with a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science.