LEARNED DOCTORS: Kay Distel of Brisbane, one of the oldest graduates at 70, with Kate Jackson of Dunoon. Both women gained their PhDs.
LEARNED DOCTORS: Kay Distel of Brisbane, one of the oldest graduates at 70, with Kate Jackson of Dunoon. Both women gained their PhDs. Doug Eaton

Academic accolades for SCU graduates

POMP and ceremony was in full effect in Lismore on Saturday morning when 180 jubilant and robed graduates of all ages took to the streets for the Southern Cross University graduation march.

Earlier in the day, St Andrews Anglican Church on Zadoc St had paid a special tribute to the students, ringing its bells continuously for almost an hour.

Led by the ever reliable Lismore City Pipe Band, students made their way through the CBD to the cheers of loved ones and the clicking of cameras and phones.

Local shops paused trading for the duration of the event, with staff and customers emerging to honour the march.

Many graduates had travelled hours to attend the big day. Masters in Clinical Science graduate Susan Whitby came from Sydney with her two-year old son Charlie and husband Wayne.

Ms Whitby managed to complete her course in four years despite the challenge of becoming a first-time mum halfway through. Her advice was: "Do it before you start a family, it's so much easier!"

She said she was excited to join the parade.

"This is the great thing about graduating in a small town - no one does this in Sydney," she said.

One of the oldest graduates of the day was Brisbane-based psychotherapist Kay Distel, 70, receiving a PhD in Health Sciences.

Ms Distel had the honour of being first up on stage at the formal graduation ceremony held at Trinity College shortly after the march to receive her congratulations from SCU Chancellor John Dowd.

Part of Ms Distel's PhD thesis investigated the use of sound to retrain the brain with a focus on using the technique to assist the education of children and teens.

"It's taken me nine years to do this part-time," she said, visibly moved.

"I finished school at 15 and have been educating myself ever since."

"I'm very emotional and joyful - it's as big as getting married in a way."



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