Alumnus of the Year Award winners gathered at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) to celebrate their incredible achievements on 25 August.

The top honour of 2017 USQ Outstanding Alumnus of the Year was awarded to Australian singer and song writing legend Dr Kevin (Kev) Carmody, who also received the Indigenous Service Alumnus of the Year award. The child of an Irish father and Murri mother, Kev grew up surrounded by the powerful traditions of Indigenous oral storytelling. He learned skills that would enable him to earn an education, beginning with a Bachelor of Arts at USQ in 1980, and go on to forge an inspirational career. In 2009, he was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame and was the recipient of the Queensland Greats Awards.

USQ Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Verbyla said USQ was proud of its graduates and their accomplishments and commended the 2017 winners and finalists.

“Recognition, like that from the USQ Alumnus of the Year Awards, allows the local and international community to learn about, and celebrate, the successes of USQ alumni,” Professor Verbyla said. “Kev Carmody is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when there is a strong and inspirational voice committed to exposing people to culture and history, and promoting social awareness and the acceptance of diversity.”

The Professional Alumnus of the Year award went to Michael Hayes, who has more than 37 years of experience in the viticulture industry. Hayes has been working with Symphony Hill Wines since 1999, the Queensland College of Wine and Tourism since 2007, and is a contract winemaker for 15 other wineries. He credits his time at USQ as instrumental in helping him get where he is today. “Apart from my daughter being born, this is undoubtedly the finest achievement to date for me,” said Hayes. “To be recognised for your passion and love is quite humbling and as I begin to reflect on the past, this will sit on top of my achievements and hopefully open up more exciting avenues in my career.”

Research/Academic Alumnus of the Year went to Dr Tracey Brickell, who has published more than 39 manuscripts, 100 abstracts, and 120 conference presentations throughout her career. She currently serves as Senior Scientist and Scientific Director for the Defence and Veterans Brain Injury Centre. She was recognised for her work studying the outcomes and long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries on service members and their families.

The USQ Alumnus of the Year Award criteria assesses alumni in a broad spectrum of achievements including their professional careers, academic excellence and on individuals who have made a major contribution in community service or overcome significant adversity.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson won Community Service Alumnus of the Year and Shane Elson, currently living in Indonesia where he has started a business and locally-based non-profit, won International Alumnus of the Year. Suresh Muttiah, who is from Sri Lanka, won Chapter Volunteer of the Year, and Young Alumnus of the Year was given to Cara-Ann Simpson, currently living in Victoria.