6 December 2005

With four young children and a three-hour round trip just to make it to class, Suzanne Alexander will be particularly proud when she graduates at The University of Queensland tomorrow.

The Deception Bay mother has spent three years juggling university study and parenting to earn a Bachelor of Science.

It will be a proud moment for her husband Brad too, whose work at home as a computer network administrator, enabled her to study.

It also means the Alexander children, Sian 12, Caitlin 10, Matthew 8 and Sara-Jane 5, will have more time with mum now the academic year is over.

Mrs Alexander said balancing parenting and study had been tough especially as Matthew had severe asthma and scarred lungs and he often needed five physiotherapy sessions a day to help his condition.

“I have a very supportive husband and a wonderful mum who lives around the corner,” Mrs Alexander said.

“It has been tough at times but worth it every step along the way.”

Mrs Alexander, who took introductory chemistry and mathematics refreshers to meet course requirements, has enjoyed university life so much that she will study for her honours next year.

The 30-year-old said she wanted to work in immunology or in medicine with premature babies, as all her children were born premature.

Mrs Alexander is one of 850 students graduating tomorrow from UQ at the UQ Centre (Building no. 27A).

Students from UQ’s Faculty of Biological and Chemical Sciences (BACS) and the Faculty of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science (NRAVS) will graduate from 11am.

This includes the first group of Bachelor of Marine Studies students.

Another batch of BACS students will graduate at 2pm.

Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Honours) student Anthea Jones will give the NRAVS valedictorian address and Bachelor of Science recipient Simon Perkins will give the BACS valedictorian address.

Guest speakers include Professor John McKenzie, the Dean of Science and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) elect at The University of Melbourne. You can listen to the guest speeches by clicking here.

Professor McKenzie is a pesticide resistance and sheep blowfly expert and is the Secretary of Education and
Public Awareness of the Academy of Science, in Canberra.

He said he would tell graduands that science degrees would allow them to adapt to change and different careers that are yet to be invented.

He warned Australia faced a crisis in science teaching as there was a massive demand for well-qualified secondary level science teachers.

Professor Richard Burns, an Honorary Professor of Environmental Microbiology with UQ’s School of Land and Food Sciences will also speak.

Professor Burns, a soil and water pollution expert, said he would encourage graduands to involve themselves in alumni activities and emphasise the international value of a UQ degree.

Other BACS graduates include:

Sarah Croft (2pm), 22, of St Lucia, achieved a Grade Point Average (GPA) of seven during her Bachelor of Science with first class honours in the field of Biomedical Science. She investigated how human bodies regulate sulphate levels particularly in the kidneys and liver. She plans to work for a year in a Brisbane research laboratory before travelling in Europe. (0401 335 299)

Matt Kearney (2pm), 22, of Holland Park West, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Business Management, works in the Commonwealth Bank’s graduate program in corporate finance section. While at university he set-up the Society of Undergraduate Science Students, which started with 30 members and grew to 700. His future plans are to travel and finish a Master of Commerce. (0402 300 885).

Wei Jun XU (11am), 23, of St Lucia, Bachelor of Science student continuing with honours next year was sponsored by Singapore Polytechnic. He is a Chinese citizen living in Singapore who will return to work as lecturer in Polytechnic’s Chemical and Life Sciences Department. (0403 202 585)

Cameron Edgar (2pm), 37, of Spring Hill, finished his Bachelor of Biotechnology with first class honours, studying how plant genes signal plant defences. Mr Edgar is an exploration geologist who has spent eight years studying at UQ. He has applied for several PhD scholarships and has several months geology field work in Western Australia. He wants a career in geology and biotechnology. (0417 985 272)

Media: Mrs Alexander (0431 946 471) or Miguel Holland at UQ Communications (07 3365 2619)