From grassroots community initiatives to the highest levels of global politics, alumni of The Australian National University (ANU) are doing their bit to make the world a better place.
This year’s ANU Alumni Awards recognised seven outstanding members of the alumni community, who embody the University’s ethos of excellence, leadership and service.
This year’s awardees
The 2023 ANU Alumnus of the Year is HE the Hon Dr Kevin Rudd AC, awarded for his dedication to diplomacy, exceptional leadership in global governance and commitment to fostering international cooperation and progress.
As Australia’s 26th Prime Minister, Dr Rudd’s leadership left an enduring mark on Australia’s history. Today, his foundation in international affairs, built during his time studying a Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) (Hons) at ANU, is on display in his role as Australia’s Ambassador to the United States.
Sophia Hamblin Wang, joint-winner of the ANU Young Alumna of the Year, is recognised for her ground-breaking work as Chief Operating Officer at MCi Carbon.
Hamblin Wang has been key to developing technology that safely captures and converts industrial carbon dioxide emissions into solid bulk materials, such as concrete and plasterboard. Through this work, she’s able to create high-quality permanent carbon offsets and valuable materials, which could be crucial in the global race to net zero emissions.
The late Sophie Trevitt, joint-winner of the ANU Young Alumna of the Year, is remembered for her tireless advocacy for social justice, particularly in fighting for the rights of incarcerated Indigenous children.
Early in her career, Trevitt worked as a civil solicitor with the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and represented children suffering abuse in the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre and the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.
She became passionate about First Nations youth justice, leading the call for policy change. She led a successful campaign to increase the age of criminal responsibility in Australia, from as young as 10 years old to 14 in the Australian Capital Territory and 12 in the Northern Territory.
Trevitt’s advocacy work also led to the recent Australian Federal Police investigation into ‘spit hoods’ being used on minors in custody, resulting in their operational banning in April 2023.
Professor Marcia Langton AO FASSA FTSE, winner of the ANU Indigenous Alumna of the Year, is a pivotal figure in advancing Indigenous rights and advocacy in Australia. Through her research, activism and public engagement, Professor Langton champions the cause of Indigenous self-determination and recently played a vital role in advocating for the establishment of a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.
Dr Suharti is the 2023 ANU International Alumna of the Year, honoured for her transformative work in Indonesian education and governance.
As the first woman to hold the position of Secretary-General of the Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, Dr Suharti has implemented evidence-driven policies and championed gender equality, especially regarding gender-responsive planning and budgeting. Dr Suharti’s academic background, including her PhD from ANU, has been pivotal in driving this change.
Recognising exemplary commitment to community service, Sharrada Segeran is recognised as this year’s ANU Student Volunteer of the Year (Postgraduate).
Cultural differences and stigmas surrounding mental health struggles in Malaysia are a huge barrier when it comes to seeking help. Segeran has made substantial strides in increasing mental health literacy in Malaysia through her work as co-founder of the Mind Matters Network.
Her efforts in creating the first Handbook on Youth Mental Health in Malaysia and organising mental health exhibitions and art therapy sessions have reached thousands of young people across the country.
Tom Gibbs is recognised as the ANU Student Volunteer of the Year (Undergraduate) for demonstrating remarkable dedication to community safety and health. An Honours student at the ANU John Curtin School of Medical Research, Gibbs’ commitment to volunteering with St John Ambulance ACT, North Canberra Hospital and Canberra NightCrew exemplifies his dedication to ensuring community safety and health.
The 2023 ANU Alumni Award winners’ diverse accomplishments underscore the power of education, leadership and unwavering dedication to shaping a better world.
Watch Tom's interview here.
This article first appeared on ANU Reporter