Pr Bethany Chapman in academic regalia

Grateful grads

Thursday, December 8, 2022
Brenton Stacey
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Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale University’s Public Relations and Philanthropy Officer. He brings to the role 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.

They’re thankful for good courses and “incredible support”

In her previous pastoral roles, particularly on the Central Coast, Pr Bethany Chapman met a lot of people who needed more mental health support than she felt equipped to offer. “Wait lists can be long, so I wanted basic skills to help people in crisis before they get to see a licensed therapist.” She chose to upskill at Avondale because our courses are accredited by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. Bethany completed most of the course during the COVID lockdown while educating her daughters and continuing to work in ministry. “The lecturers and the library staff were incredibly helpful and compassionate. They wanted me to succeed.”

Fellow graduand Trent Keegan has benefitted from counselling support. He’s dyslexic and has, with help, managed depression. “I said to God, ‘I’ll go anywhere you want, just don’t send me to Avondale because I can’t get through that ministry and theology degree.” Trent’s worked hard but credits the staff in the Wellbeing Centre for making a “huge impact.” “If God calls you to it, He’ll get you through it.” Trent will minister as teen pastor at the Seventh-day Adventist Church on campus next year.

After about 10 years in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Ministries and a call to serve as principal of Mamarapha College, Adventist Church leaders encouraged Pr David Garrard to upskill. So, he enrolled in the Master of Business Administration and has found each unit of study directly applicable to his role. Growing up in a low socioeconomic area and beginning higher education as a mature-age student in non-degree awards, “I never thought I’d be capable of completing a postgraduate degree.” He thanks his lecturers for their support and now considers them friends. “I’ve had a lot of good conversations along the way.”

Bethany, Trent and David will join 238 other students who will graduate from 32 courses in three ceremonies this Sunday (December 11).

About a third of the class members are nurses and a quarter teachers. A government-endorsed national survey of students ranks these courses as number one in Australia—across all categories in nursing and in learner engagement in teaching.

Students identified as high or consistent achievers will receive academic prizes during the ceremonies. Class co-president Jay Borrott and teacher Caitlin Smith are Lake Macquarie campus recipients of the prestigious Avondale Prize For Excellence. A recipient from the Sydney campus will be named during the consecration service on Friday (December 9). Caitlin is one of five students—Elyse Atkins, Jade Harkins, Mekuri Su’a and Ellie van Oostveen—receiving multiple prizes.

The graduation class theme, He Guides, He Provides, summarises a verse from the book of Isaiah: “The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame” (58:11, NIV). In his message to class members, Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Kevin Petrie writes they leave Avondale “with the confidence of knowing a God who can be trusted to guide and to provide.” They will be a “transformative power in the world,” which will be “an example of the hope and peace to be found in Him.”

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