Western Sydney University
Unsung Heroes Award
Unsung Heroes Award
This award category is proudly presented by ZEST Event Partner – Western Sydney University.
Carina Joanne Fernandes
Carina is a Bachelor of Nursing (Advanced) student at Western Sydney University, and is involved in several projects both a the University and within her local community. At WSU, she is a MATES mentor, part of the Parramatta SCC, the LEAD program, and the Academy. Other areas of her involvement include the Reading Ambassador Program, the Citizen Scholar Award, and the P.E.A.C.E. Unlimited program. A Millennium Fellow, Carina volunteers in multiple activities on campus. Within her community, Carina’s many endeavours include the Penrith City Council Resilience Committee, the Vice President of the P&C of Kingswood Public School, and fundraising activities. Carina’s belief in the power of social change is demonstrated in all areas of her life.
Marama Mackay is an inspiring and high-achieving scholarship student, in her first year of the Bachelor of Nursing at Hawkesbury campus. Marama has stated that being awarded the Community Scholarship was life-changing and credits the support of the University as being crucial in enabling her transformed life. Her gratitude and passion are expressed in her many volunteering capacities in Western Sydney; particularly in indigenous health, aged care, community garden, and first aid. Marama runs free CPR courses that prioritise stay-at-home parents, people returning to work and job seekers. She is connecting with academics in health to establish an indigenous–focused internship.
Matilda is a proud Wiradjuri woman, committed to creating positive change and being a voice for those less fortunate. She is actively involved in many university groups and volunteering programs, such as: WSU Pathways To Dreaming Program, WSU Reading Ambassador Program, assisting literacy in schools and AIME, mentoring Indigenous high school students. Matilda is a Project Advisor for the Kimberwalli Centre, in Mt Druitt, in consultation with other young Indigenous leaders and the NSW Government to create a centre that captures community needs with key input from young people. Matilda mentors with NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet in his Hawkesbury and Hills Youth Leadership Program. She mentors a group of 30 young leaders in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, completing community service in disadvantaged schools. Matilda volunteers with Riding for Disabled, Anglicare, St David’s church and was the 2016 Young Premier’s Volunteer of the Year.
Renae is a dedicated member of the Western Sydney region who works to protect our ecology through educating members of the public on both native and non-native animal conservation. As a WIRES volunteer, Renae works with the public in taking calls and facilitating the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick and injured native wildlife, often nursing sick native avian species back to health. As an employee of the RSPCA, Renae has worked as an animal attendant, rehabilitating companion animals; she currently works as a customer service officer, providing animal care advice to members of the public. In her University of Western Sydney Master of Research degree, Renae is undertaking ground-breaking conservation research into the effect of chronic stress on the physiology of Australia’s iconic native species, the koala.
An accomplished public speaker and White Ribbon Australia Ambassador since the age of 16, Fadi speaks at multiple schools on the messages of non- violence, respectful relationships and gender equality. Engaged in multiple community contexts, Fadi works as a Member of Fairfield City Council Youth Advisory Committee, and as a volunteer with Summit Care Aged Care Facility, on a fortnightly basis. Fadi volunteers for the Cancer Council, organising the ‘Relay For Life’ event, and has served four years with the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal; is also a volunteer at the ‘Bring It On’ and Cabramatta Moon Festivals, and attends important community events including the ANZAC Day Ceremonies at Cabravale in a formal capacity. Fadi is a ‘Project- Lead’ Member, forming a network that aims to bring together young leaders from different schools together from across the state.
John is a first–year student enrolled in the Bachelor of Physiotherapy at Western Sydney University. This year he made a significant contribution to the community with his volunteer work as a student physiotherapist in 2018. John volunteered at Royal Rehab at Ryde each Wednesday night, providing manual handling and transfer assistance for patients with brain and spinal cord injuries during adapted yoga classes. John has also volunteered as a student physiotherapist at the Oxfam Trailwalker event, and as a convenor for the APA Sports Physiotherapy Level 1 Course. John’s commitment and application of his developing skillset to those in need has impressed his teachers and colleagues, nominating him for his positive work in benefiting the community.
Justen Bennett is a Chemistry student at Western Sydney University; he is nominated for his dedicated work as a volunteer with NSW State Emergency Services (SES). Justen spends many hours volunteering in a variety of activities, including community engagement, weekend and weeknight rescue, operations training – including as a trainee and trainer – and in weekly meetings. In addition to external volunteering, Justen is involved as a volunteer within the University. In August 2018, he attended the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Bangkok; his leadership qualities and experience enabled him to engage in managing a group of about 70 students, and helping to run the service day for the event, at the Chao Praya river.
Karuna is currently enrolled in Nursing at Western Sydney University at Parramatta South Campus, and is an event co-ordinator of Nepali Students. An international student, Karuna’s ambitious dreams and goals led her to become enrolled prior to turning 18 years old. Beginning at the Western Sydney International College, Karuna later progressed to the School of Nursing and Midwifery. She was selected as a Western Sydney University student representative at the ‘BOOMTOWN’, Property and Infrastructure Summit, 2018, at which she had the coordinated an event; Karuna performed dance and shared her thoughts and experiences on club life and student life at ‘Diversityfest. She was selected to work for the Global Trade Accelator and keenly anticipates more opportunities to share her experiences and the opportunities at WSU, across the globe.
Rose is a multi-institutional, cross-disciplinary leader who proudly advocates for Western Sydney at its very essence. A Western Sydney University (WSU) Student Curriculum Partner, Rose is involved in course co-creation; as a Summer Research Scholar, she explored the role of financial literacy in preventing economic abuse among older women; as a short-film maker, her WSU-related content has generated over 2.2K views. Facilitating English Conversation Groups, Rose has mentored over 44 international students, and 50 first-year students through WSU’s MATES and Law School programs. Rose has co-authored 26 UNICEF reports. Rose approaches her Law and Business studies holistically, encompassing sustainability, innovation, education and technology. Her activism extends beyond the university; she is a NSW Multicultural Youth Ambassador and US Embassy Youth Advisory Councillor. In 2017, Rose undertook two WSU study programs in Stellenbosch, South Africa and in Xiamen, China; in 2018 she represented World Vision in Bangkok, Thailand, advocating for children’s rights.