Dean of Students turns proud aunt at May graduations


Pictured L to R: Professor Mariella Herberstein, Dean of Students, with her niece Annabelle

Significant milestones have been achieved and countless memories created as part of the May 2023 graduation series, which wrapped up last week.

Almost 3000 graduates received their degrees across the 19 ceremonies, which also marked the end of the COVID-19 backlog.

Almost 40 graduation ceremonies across 2020 and 2021 had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, which directly impacted thousands of students. All were invited to attend a subsequent graduation series, with the University staging additional ceremonies to meet demand.

“The past few years have been particularly difficult for students, and we are proud of their perseverance,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor S Bruce Dowton. “It was important to the University that all graduates had the opportunity to attend a graduation ceremony and I was pleased to see so many students return to celebrate their achievement.”

The series kicked off on 1 May with a morning ceremony that featured a noteworthy family affair. Brother-sister duo Harriet and James Cummins were both members of the graduating class, while their mum Juliet Lucy and grandmother Donna Gibbs shared the milestone as part of the Academic Procession. Both are former Macquarie academics.

Harriet says being part of a now three-generation Macquarie University legacy is “precious and empowering” and she hopes the connection will “thrive for generations to come”.

The May graduating class comprised more than 2000 undergraduates, 702 postgraduates and 34 PhD students. Among the PhD recipients was Dr Shani Hartley, who now holds five degrees from Macquarie, as well as a sixth from Deakin. As one of the graduate speakers, Dr Hartley shared her story of transitioning from “arrogant” student to dedicated lifelong learner.

Earlier in the series, Professor Mariella Herberstein shifted roles temporarily from Dean of Students to proud aunt as her niece Annabelle received her Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education (Primary). Annabelle says her aunt has been an inspiration during her studies and beyond.

“Mariella’s determination and leadership is extremely inspiring to me,” she says.

“She is also an advocate for female empowerment and the importance of standing up and speaking out. This is something my sisters and I continue to work towards.”






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