2019 Avondale Prize of Excellence recipients Oliver Doyle and Keira-leigh Josey with presenter Darren Hagen

Thank you for mentoring us

Thursday, October 24, 2019
Top students say their lecturers modelled excellence

Having lecturers as mentors helped us achieve our best, say two of Avondale’s top students after receiving the university college’s most prestigious academic prize yesterday (October 23).

Oliver Doyle and Kira-leigh Josey describe their Avondale experience as being shaped by lecturers who “invest in you personally as well as academically.” The Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) students were both announced as recipients of the Avondale Prize for Excellence during the annual academic prizes ceremony.

“I’m here to learn as much as I can from people who know so much more than I do,” says Doyle. The former mechanic from Wagga Wagga is studying music as a specialisation and wants to be “the best teacher I can be.” Singing with The Promise since the end of his first year has provided valuable extracurricular training. “[Artistic Director] Aleta King sets a high standard. She wants us to strive for excellence while learning more about vocal music. But she also shows concern for us as individuals. This mentorship model is indicative of my Avondale experience as a whole.”

As if to underscore his status as a top student, Doyle also received two other prizes: the Avondale Conservatorium Alan and Yvonne Thrift Perpetual Shield for Musical Excellence, which he shared this past year, and the Ministry of Teaching (Secondary) Prize.

I’m here to learn as much as I can from people who know so much more than I do.Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) student Oliver Doyle, recipient, Avondale Prize of Excellence, 2019
Josey credits lecturers Dr Jason Hinze and Associate Professor Peter Kilgour with helping her make the transition from timid first-year to confident final-year student. “They’ve just believed in me. Teaching a classroom full of high school students can be daunting, but Jason and Peter are great at building you up and making you believe you can do what you believe in.” Josey travels from the Lake Macquarie campus to Sydney three days a week for work—she is a Bible teacher at Hills Adventist College—but makes time for study and then rewards herself with a “social bounce.” She will continue seeking this work–life balance next year as she follows a call into ministry by beginning the Graduate Diploma of Ministry and Theology.

Three ministry and theology students travelled from interstate for the ceremony. Shaun Lieder came from Brisbane and Bachelor of Ministry and Theology classmate Tarnya Garner from Melbourne. But Graduate Diploma of Ministry and Theology student Kate Suchanek travelled the farthest. She describes studying by distance as sometimes an “isolating” and “surreal” experience. “I hadn’t most of my lecturers or any of the students in class. And I’d visited Avondale only once or twice, and only as a kid, but lots of the members of my family studied here. So, I wanted to come and see the campus. And I’m really, really glad I did.” She is glad because, coming from Cairns, she did not know many women in ministry. “Meeting [Women in Ministry trustee] Lyell [Heise] and other women studying ministry in inspiring—there’s so much potential.” Like many others in ministry and theology, Suchanek feels called to the field. “I know this is what God wants me to do.” She recounts conversations “with four random people who all said, ‘I think you should do ministry.’ What a strange thing to say to a stay-at-home mother of five.”

The most recent student to complete a PhD at Avondale, Dr Bevan Craig, received the inaugural John Ballard Trim Health Ministry Prize. The prize, sponsored by the Trim family, honours Avondale alumnus Pr John Trim’s innovative ministry, which combined a lifelong interest in public relations with a passion for wholistic health and wellbeing.

In addition to Doyle, other students receiving multiple prizes during the ceremony were: music specialist Jackson Burke, who performed an item on his bass guitar; communication major Linda Edorsson; and marketing major Jessie Sim.

Burke received Avondale Conservatorium’s George Greer Memorial Academic Excellence Prize and its Noel Clapham Memorial Performance Prize. Edorsson and Sim received not only a prize in their field of study (the W A Townend Christian Journalism Prize and the Angela and Robert Kalaf Marketing Excellence Prize) but also one from their school (the Willobee Floors Bachelor of Arts Prize and the Professional Advantage Bachelor of Business Prize).

A nursing student will be announced as third recipient of the Avondale Prize for Excellence during the consecration service on the Sydney campus over graduation weekend (December 8).

Academic prize recipients 2019

Which students has Avondale College of Higher Education recognised as excelling as leaders in 2010? Find out in this list of academic prize recipients.

Academic prize recipients 2019



Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale University College’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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