15 May 1998

Julie Webb has not let blindness prevent her from becoming one of the top achieving medallists of the 63 students awarded University of Queensland medals for outstanding scholarship at graduation ceremonies at Mayne Hall, St Lucia on May 18 and May 20.

University Medals are given to students who achieved excellent results in their courses completed in 1997. Awarded annually to first-class honours graduates for outstanding scholarship, the medals are limited not by number but by standards and reflect a thriving tradition of excellence in teaching and learning.
The criterion for this year's medallists was even more stringent than previously, with the minimum grade point average raised from 6.3 to 6.4 (out of a possible 7).
Ms Webb's GPA of 6.8 made her one of the highest ranking medallists. She will be accompanied across Mayne Hall stage on May 20 at 8pm by sister Melanie, and by guide dog Lydia, wearing a black coat edged with pearl white silk, to match her owner's graduation robes. The coat was made by Julie's mother, Patricia, of Bundaberg, who will be in the audience along with her father, Ian.
Mr and Mrs Webb both learned braille after they discovered Julie was blind from birth. Ms Webb said her parents had fought hard to enable her to access regular schooling and support facilities.
'I learned from young that I needed good organisation to get things in on time, but I also received a lot of help from family and friends at Bundaberg West State School, and Shalom Catholic College,' Ms Webb said.
'At University, Lydia accompanied me to all my lectures and once she learned what was needed, she was very good.
'I had a braille computer to take notes in braille and print out material. My family, friends and the University taped material for me, and near the end of my studies, I acquired a scanner to read material. The University's Disability Service arranged for someone to help me with my library research.
'I?ve really enjoyed being at the University of Queensland and I've met some excellent people here.'
Ms Webb's hard work has paid off. She is now working as a psychologist at Multicap, the Multiple Handicapped Association of Queensland Inc at Eight Mile Plains, where she conducts functional assessments and designs behaviour management strategies.
Her mother, Patricia, said the family was very proud of both daughters. 'They're both very independent, but they look out for each other,' she said. The family expect to return to Mayne Hall for Melanie's science graduation ceremony at the University of Queensland next year. Further information: Julie Webb, telephone 3341 6644.
- The highest-achieving medallist, Nicholas Cavenagh, who will be at the May 20 6pm ceremony, recorded a GPA of 6.96.
Mr Cavenagh, whose bachelor of science honours work in combinatorics was supervised by Dr Elizabeth Billington of the Mathematics Department, said he was fortunate to be studying a subject he really enjoyed.
'My father only just passed mathematics in his science degree at Melbourne University and my mother also hates mathematics, so they are very proud that someone in the family has done well in the subject,' he said.
Mr Cavenagh, who says he was encouraged by his mathematics teachers at St Thomas More School at Sunnybank, is currently undertaking a master of science and is tutoring in mathematics at the University of Queensland.

As a result of his honours work, he has had two papers accepted for publication in the Journal of Graph Theory and the Australasian Journal of Combinatorics. One paper was co-written with his supervisor, and one was a solo effort. Mr Cavenagh said combinatorics was an interesting study area with applications in cryptography, coding theory, and statistics. He has been provisionally accepted for a Commonwealth Scholarship to study for a PhD in the U.K. from September, and hopes to attend the University of London. Contact telephone 07 3365 2307.

- Occupational therapy graduand and medallist Rachel Bryant, who also graduates May 20 at 6pm, is following a family tradition of academic achievement. Her mother, Lesley, was a University medallist 30 years ago, graduating with first-class honours in microbiology. She had graduated bachelor of science a year earlier.

Rachel achieved first-class honours and a GPA of 6.45 after completing a thesis on management of injection pain for children with leukaemia.

'It's a great honour to receive a medal and it's special that both mum and I got them,' Rachel said.

After receiving her medal, Rachel will work as an occupational therapist in England. She hopes to pursue postgraduate study after gaining clinical experience. Contact telephone 07 3352 6869.

- Head of the Physics Department Professor Gerard Milburn said he was very proud of the department's two medallists, Gilman Toombes and Dominic Berry. Mr Toombes was the top student in his class and his honours project involved original research in quantum optics.

He completed a science degree and honours studies in three years instead of the usual four, achieving an extremely high grade point average. He also gives presentations for school students through the Science In Action program. Mr Toombes is now studying quantum computing for his masters in physics. 'Mr Toombes is a very talented student with the potential for a wonderful career in research,' Professor Milburn said.

Professor Milburn said Mr Berry's project was an extraordinary piece of experimental research and sophisticated analysis in laser physics. Both students' work had been submitted for publication. Contact Professor Milburn, telephone 07 3365 3405.

University medallists for 1997 are:
Atchison, Timothy Donald, BE (Mechanical)
Baker, Steven Edgar, BMus
Bean, Richard Winston, BSc (Mathematic-Computer Science)
Berry, Dominic William, BSc
Bolland, Scott William, BA
Booker, Cara Jayne, BOccThy
Bowen, Maree, BAgrSc
Brandt, Matthew David, MBBS
Bryant, Rachel Maree, BOccThy
Burmeister, Kerrie L, LLB
Cavenagh, Nicholas John, BSc
Cernovs, Jasmine Maya, BA
Chang, Anna Wai-Yee, BDSc
Craven, Benjamin Michael, BE (Electrical)
Dal Santo, Lisa Anne, BSc
Davis, Darius, BE (Computer Systems)
Douglas, Janelle Cherie, MBBS
Downie, David James, BSc
Edmond, Christian Paul, BEcon
Ford, Lisa Margaret, BA
Foster, Gary Alan, BSocWk
Gunton, Karen Ann, BSc
Henderson, Berenise Anne, LLB
Hewett, Simon John, BMus
Hilford, David John, MBBS
Hooper, Narelle Dianne, BVSc
Hooper, Scott Burnett, LLB
Hwang, John White, BSc
Knell, Laurence Bill Graham, BA
Law, David McKenzie, BE (Mechanical)
Lekatsas, Telman, BSc
Leung, Ki Chung Simon, BE (Electrical)
Martin, Michelle Elizabeth, BCom
Martyn, Paul Thomas, BA
McLaughlin, Richard Leslie, BE
Metchnik, Marc Victor, BSc
Molesworth, Mark William, BCom
Morgan, Angela Tamsin, BSpPath
Payne, Kathleen Emma, LLB
Peace, Cameron Paul, BHortSc
Pelly, Rebecca Nanette, BA
Quirk, Kathryn Ann, BA
Robb, David Alastair, BBus (Hosp Man)
Robinson, Emma Caroline, BPhty
Rogers, Kim Bethia, BInfTech
Rowan, Scott Andrew, BE (Mechanical-Space)
Scott, Andrew James, BSc
Scott, Nathan John, BE (Civil)
Service, Benjamin Murray, BE (Chemistry)/BSc
Slaughter, Geoffrey John, BBus (Hosp Man)
Spender, Duncan Peter James, BEcon
Stewart, Nancy Leigh, BSc
Temple-Smith, Annabel Louse, LLB
Terry, Michelle Ruth, BA
Toombes, Gilman Ewan Stephen, BSc
Tynes, Emma Elizabeth, BA
Ward, Lawrence Neil, LLB
Watson, Jini Kim, BA
Webb, Julie Patricia, BA
West, Anna Victoria, BE (Civil)
White, Bruce Michael, BCom
Williams, Mark Ian, BA
Woodruff, Kristi Susan, BA

For further information, contact Donna Gauld, University Graduations officer, telephone 07 336 52898.