17 December 2009

While Louisa Gee’s Valedictorian address will be a solo performance, the message she hopes to convey is one of teamwork and camaraderie.

“People who work individually can always achieve goals and tick boxes, but if they are able to acknowledge, understand and respect what others can bring to the table they will go so much further, learn a lot more and have a much better time along the way,” Ms Gee said.

“This applies to not only people within their own profession but also to working collaboratively with people in other disciplines.”

Ms Gee, who will graduate with a Master of Architecture at a UQ graduation ceremony on Friday, said while obtaining a degree was an individual achievement, the support from others was what defined her time at university.

The School of Architecture’s on-campus studio – which each student can access after hours – provided the perfect environment in which to collaborate.

“You learn from each other; the whole process is so much more enjoyable and beneficial when you are part of a group of students,” she said.

“My strongest memories are of working in the studio; the later in the semester it is, the more hours you spend at uni.

“The relationships I have taken away from this experience would not have existed without the studio culture that I think is unique to not only architecture students, but to UQ.”

True to her passion for supporting others, Ms Gee was part of a group of students who assisted with rebuilding efforts in tsunami-ravaged areas of the Solomon Islands earlier this year.

Fifteen UQ Architecture students and two students from the University of Lae in Papua New Guinea travelled to the Solomon Islands Western Province to participate in a two-week reconstruction program developed by Emergency Architects Australia (EAA).

“The trip was about meeting the basic needs of sanitation and human dignity to a deserving community by raising their building standards through well-designed and well-constructed sanitary facilities,” she said.

“It was also really satisfying seeing all the projects completed in the two weeks; seeing something grow from the beginning to the end and knowing what a difference it would make to these people's lives was wonderfully gratifying.”

Ms Gee, whose original career ambition was to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather and become a dentist, said she was drawn to architecture because of the range of skills required.

“It allows for creative and artistic expression whilst still requiring pragmatics such as maths and physics, as well as addressing social and environmental agendas,” she said.

“I have always placed an importance on being involved in the industry whilst studying and have therefore worked part-time in a supportive architecture firm for the last two years of my degree.

“My short-term goals include working towards getting registered as an architect within the next two to three years.”

Hailing from Moruya, a small town of 3000 people on the south coast of NSW, Ms Gee lived in Sydney for four years before moving to Brisbane and starting third-year architecture.

“I had heard of the School of Architecture’s good reputation and wanted to try learning from a new approach,” she said.

Ms Gee will receive her degree at the 2pm ceremony on Friday, December 18, alongside graduates from the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering; School of Architecture; and School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

The guest speaker will be Dr Adrian (Adi) Paterson, Chief Executive of the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Friends and family of graduating students who can’t make it to the UQ ceremonies will be able to watch them live on the web by clicking on either of the following links: Quicktime, or Windows Media Player.

Media: Penny Robinson at UQ Communications (07 3365 9723, penny.robinson@uq.edu.au)