In summary

  • Adorel Ng, Uma Laghu and Dr Stephanie Harkin are the winners of the 2022 University Medal
  • They were the highest performing students in their courses and awarded for their excellence and impact in the fields of design, construction management and gaming
  • The University Medal recognises the most outstanding students at an undergraduate, postgraduate and research doctorate level

Three students have been awarded the 2022 University Medal from Swinburne, a prestigious award that recognises the most outstanding students at an undergraduate, postgraduate and research doctorate level.  

Adorel Ng, Uma Laghu and Dr Stephanie Harkin are this year’s winners for their excellence and impact in the diverse fields of design, construction management and gaming.

Stepping into the creative industry

Recipient of the undergraduate University Medal, Adorel Ng, is a Communication Design (honours) graduate who has secured her first job as a graphic designer, which she credits to her Swinburne experience.

“Not many 22-year-olds can say they have graduated from university with the security of a full-time job,” says Adorel.

She says it was Swinburne’s industry relevant teaching and focus on developing job-ready skills that laid the foundations for her success. 

“The consistent project-based assignments and applications to real industry briefs led to them feeling like second nature to me,” she says. 

Adorel also completed a 12-month industry placement with Museums Victoria as part of Swinburne’s Work Integrated Learning program. 

“What I loved most was the myriad projects I was entrusted with, ranging from designing a childrens’ book to rebranding their members’ magazine. The projects I worked on were some of the ones that caught the attention of my current employer and helped me secure the position I have now.”  

Adorel says receiving the medal is a huge honour and confirmation of pursuing a career she is passionate about. 

“It will continue to be a reminder to myself to never doubt my choices when following my ambitions. I have a lot of people to thank…including my professors, amazing honours cohort, and my family who never questioned my passion for pursuing design as a career.”

Raising aspiration for women in construction 

Only twelve percent of people working in the construction industry in Australia are women – a statistic that the winner of the postgraduate University Medal, Uma Laghu, is out to change.

Uma completed a Master of Construction and Infrastructure Management at Swinburne Sydney and now works as a civil engineering draftsperson, a career she loves because of her interest in architecture and sustainable construction methods. 

As a Nepalese woman and the first in her family to attain a postgraduate education, Uma is also passionate about raising aspiration for women in STEM fields.

“My success will have generational impact on my family and young women who aspire to become engineers,” she says.

Uma is the first in her family to study at a postgraduate level and is passionate about raising aspiration for women in STEM.

During her time at Swinburne, Uma took on a student mentor role, which she says has equipped her with vital skills for mentoring other women in the construction industry.

“My professional purpose statement, which I developed by the end of the course, is to become a female role model in the construction management profession who applies and champions the application of ethical and sustainable construction methods and practices.”

Uma says being the recipient of this medal is a significant achievement for her and her family.

“I am very grateful to my parents, friends, and the staff at Swinburne who have supported me while completing the course. The medal is a testament that women can shine and achieve their dreams.”

Exploring ‘girlhood’ in videogames

Videogames have long been considered a part of boyhood culture, but what about for girls and women? 

This is the focus of Dr Stephanie Harkin’s PhD research that has earned her the Iain Wallace Research Medal for a postgraduate researcher, a prize named after Swinburne’s foundation Vice-Chancellor.

“I coined the term ‘Girlhood Games’ to explore a recent increase I was seeing of girlhood protagonists in games that shifted away from heroes’ journeys and towards coming-of-age tales,” says Dr Harkin.

“In the process I also uncovered a complex history of girlhood protagonists and girls’ gaming practices that have gone unnoticed in gaming histories, and so my thesis amends those histories to better account for girls’ experiences.” 

Stephanie is currently teaching and hopes to get a lecturer or post-doctoral position that will enable her to develop her research further.

Stephanie chose to undertake her PhD at Swinburne in pursuit of Professor Angela Ndalianis and Associate Professor Dan Golding to be her supervisors. 

“They both used to teach…where I did my undergraduate degree, and they were inspiring and influential to my research interests.”

She says she is proud to see the increase in recognition of the value of girls’ games and gaming cultures as a result of her research. 

“I’ve really enjoyed sharing these dialogues with local game developers as well.” 

She says being the recipient of the medal is surreal, and validation of years of work. 

“I worked hard on my thesis and I’m proud of the outcome. The medal is a tangible testament to that. It’s important to me to see both game studies and girlhood studies being valued.”

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