2018 Avondale Prize of Excellence recipient Daniel Lavaiamat.

Beginning again “my only hope”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

“Broken” student “grateful” for Avondale excellence honour

A recipient of Avondale’s top prize had just buried his father in Papua New Guinea when an invitation to return for a significant presentation came.

Bachelor of Business (Marketing) student Daniel Lavaiamat travelled with the casket from the hospital in Port Moresby to the family’s home island of Baluan, about 40 kilometres southeast of Manus, for the funeral when he received an email asking whether he could attend the annual academic prizes ceremony. “I said yes, but I didn’t know how I would get to Avondale. Then the call came from Sydney.”

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Greater Sydney had a job to offer—Marketing Coordinator for Adventist Education—and would be willing to fly Lavaiamat back to Australia. He began work on Monday this week. “I’m pinching myself thinking, God, is this really true?. Because I went from nothing, burying my father, raising all the money to do that, to getting the call and getting paid to return—which I’ll pay back—to receiving this prize.”

Lavaiamat first began studying at Avondale in 1997 but did not complete his course. He returned in 2016, sleeping in his car to ensure he had enough money to pay his fees. “I’d been saving $300 a week on rent for a year.”

I’m pinching myself thinking, God, is this really true?.Daniel Lavaiamat, 2018 Avondale Prize of Excellence recipient
Working in logistics after making some bad investments during a long stint in real estate, Lavaiamat realised his “only hope” was to begin again. The experience strengthened his resolve and his relationship with God. “I’m so grateful because I know what it means to be broken and to be humbled.”

Lavaiamat is one of two Lake Macquarie campus recipients of the Avondale Prize for Excellence. Bianca Maggs, a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) student, is the other. Both are campus leaders—Lavaiamat is the student representative on Avondale College Council and Maggs the graduation class co-president.

In addition to an outstanding academic record, Maggs also represented Avondale as a delegate at the United Nations University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Thailand and served as the Student Associated Ministries leader this year and co-led an Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Connections trip to Nepal in 2017.

Encouraged by her lecturers, she did not initially realise she had applied for an academic prize and had “almost forgotten about it.” Then the email invitation came and “I had a felling.” Maggs is “honoured” to receive the prize considering “how many amazing students are graduating.” Her advice to students who are beginning their experience at Avondale? Be authentic. “If you don’t love what you do, you’re probably not going to put in your best effort.”

Maggs has accepted a call to teach on the Officer campus of Heritage College back home in Melbourne from next year.

Christopher Petersen’s grasp of languages earned him more money than Lavaiamat and Maggs. The Bachelor of Ministry And Theology student received the Arthur Ferch Prizes for Greek and Hebrew Studies.

Other multiple prize recipients named during the ceremony, held in Ella Hughes Chapel on the Lake Macquarie campus this past Wednesday (October 24): music specialist Stephen Aveling-Rowe; and international poverty and development studies major Linda Ciric.

Aveling-Rowe received Avondale Conservatorium’s David Clark Harmony and Composition Prize and its George Greer Memorial Academic Excellence Prize.

Ciric, who has helped her lecturer raise almost $100,000 for an advocacy campaign addressing family violence in Papua New Guinea, received not only the W A Townend Christian Journalism Prize but also the ADRA Social Justice Prize.

The recipient of Avondale Prize for Excellence on the Sydney campus will be announced during the consecration service on December 7.

Academic prize recipients 2018

Which students has Avondale College of Higher Education recognised as excelling as leaders in 2018? Find out in this list of academic prize recipients.

Academic prize recipients 2018



Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale College of Higher Education’s Public Relations Officer. He brings to the role a decade’s experience as a communicator in publishing, media relations, public relations, radio and television, mostly within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific and its entities. He is also co-convenor of Manifest, a movement exploring, encouraging and celebrating #faithfulcreativity in the Adventist Church.

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