MASTERS DEGREE: Emma Kopcikas was one of 230 students who graduated from Southern Cross Universities’ Lismore campus on Saturday.
MASTERS DEGREE: Emma Kopcikas was one of 230 students who graduated from Southern Cross Universities’ Lismore campus on Saturday. Rodney Stevens

Years of diligence comes to fruition at SCU graduation

FIVE years of study, perseverance and determination came to fruition for Emma Kopcikas over the weekend when she graduated with a Masters of Osteopathic Medicine from Southern Cross Universities' Lismore campus.

The 23-year-old, who enrolled at SCU straight from high school, was one of 230 graduands who received their degrees at two graduation ceremonies held in the Whitebrook Theatre on Saturday.

A sporting background inspired the former Grafton resident, who moved to Lismore in 2009, to enrol in her chosen field.

"I play semi-professional basketball a lot and sometimes you get injured, so I wanted to study a hands-on degree," Ms Kopcikas said.

After completing her three-year bachelor degree in Osteopathic medicine, Ms Kopcikas said she was determined to attain her master's degree.

"The degree was really good; we didn't have too many people in our course so it was a really tight-knit group."

"The lecturers were very experienced, and because of the numbers in the course, you got to know them a lot better."

Ms Kopcikas said she had secured a job as an osteopath in Brisbane, and looked forward to continuing further study.

After two decades of dedication, whale researcher Trish Franklin was presented with a doctorate of philosophy for study into how important the Queensland region of Hervey Bay is for humpback whales.

In her research, Dr Franklin found Hervey Bay was a globally unique habitat for humpback whales and a vital stopover on their annual migration journey.

"Hervey Bay provides a natural laboratory to study the social behaviour of individuals and pods of humpback whales, after they leave the breeding grounds of the Great Barrier Reef and travel to colder waters during the long southern migration to their Antarctic feeding areas."

Dr Franklin observed 4506 humpback whales in pods during her research from 1992 to 2009, and assembled a photo identification catalogue of 3000 humpbacks, ranging in age from two to 17 years.

Students from the schools of Environment, Science and Engineering, and Health and Human Sciences were presented their degrees by SCU Chancellor, the honourable John Dowd, at the 10am graduation ceremony.

While graduands from the schools of Arts and Social Sciences, Education, the Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Law and Justice, Tourism and Hospitality Management, and the Southern Cross Business School were presented their degrees at the 2pm ceremony.