Get to know some of CBR’s bright young stars

Posted 28 Dec 2016

Story by CBR Canberra

Canberra is home to some of the most promising graduate talent in Australia.

From ambitious engineers and innovative entrepreneurs to humanitarian leaders and creative thinkers—these bright, focussed and determined young individuals are firmly on the path to success.

For students wishing to make the move to the Nation’s Capital, we promise an experience unlike any other city in the world.

We will go above and beyond to provide an enriching learning journey, one that gives you access to the best facilities, a world-class quality of education and a future of brilliant possibilities.

Here’s our top five up-and-coming CBR university graduates set to achieve great things and take on the world.

Katie Taylor (University of Canberra)

  • Bachelor of Communication in Creative Writing 2007, Master of Information Studies in Librarianship 2013

Katie Taylor has developed a successful career as an author, having written and published seven novels.

Katie’s first book, a children’s book titled The Land of Bad Fantasy, was released in 2006 during the second year of her undergraduate study.

In 2009 her first adult series The Fallen Moon Trilogy was released in Australia. These three books – The Dark Griffin, The Griffin’s Flight and The Griffin’s War have also been published in Canada and the USA by Penguin Publishing.

In 2011 Katie signed a contract with HarperCollins for the publication of a further three books in the Griffin Series; The Risen Sun trilogy for publication release in 2012. These three books – The Shadows Heir, The Shadowed Throne and The Shadow’s Heart are also expected to be published in the USA.

Katie has been invited to participate in a number of writing conference panel discussions including at this year’s ComicCon in San Diego.

Ms Taylor also celebrated another milestone recently when she graduated with a Master of Information Studies in Librarianship from the University of Canberra on 28 March, adding to her Bachelor of Communications majoring in creative writing in 2007 and a graduate certificate in editing in 2008.

Rebecca Watts (Australian National University)

  • Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) 2015, Bachelor of Commerce 2015

Whether it’s in Canberra or Cambodia, Rebecca Watts is always helping. Her significant contributions to engineering and the role of females in the engineering sector has earned her praise from academics and charity organisations alike.

While studying a double degree of a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in finance, at ANU, Rebecca became one of the first College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) students to participate in the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Design Summit in Cambodia, with the help of the New Colombo Plan.

On her return, Rebecca devised her honours thesis on the experience and represented ANU at a second design summit in June 2015. As a mentor, Rebecca facilitated workshops, organised in-country logistics and a visit to a rural community for 39 undergraduate engineering students.

Due to her strong contribution, Rebecca started a 20-month placement as Project Facilitator for EWB’s Appropriate Technology initiative in Cambodia in November 2015. In this role, Rebecca works in a team of engineers and professionals creating innovative, appropriate and sustainable projects and programs with local Cambodian partners. This includes the installation of solar panels on homes in rural areas.

Away from EWB, Rebecca represented ANU as a delegate at the International Student Energy Summit in Bali last year and shared her experiences through her role as a CECS ambassador.

Pierre Johannessen (University of Canberra)

  • Bachelor of Communications and Journalism 2003, Bachelor of Laws 2007

Born in Iran during a deadly war, Pierre was raised with a great appreciation of culture, world politics, and the resilience of the human spirit. Moving to various countries and picking up a few languages along the way, Pierre finally landed in Canberra.

Specialising in communications, journalism, and law, Pierre graduated from UC in 2003 and again in 2007. During his time at UC, Pierre served as the 2002 President of the prestigious Isaacs Law Society and won UC’s Leadership Award, not just once but twice during his student career.

After graduating from UC, Pierre served as a Project Manager with Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh as part of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program. He then joined the family business, Johannessen Legal, while at the same time becoming the CEO of Big Bang Ballers, an international not for profit which combines basketball, education, youth development and poverty alleviation.

Since taking over as CEO, Pierre has helped Big Bang Ballers increase their revenue by 300 percent and increased the organisational outreach from one country to 12.

Big Bang Ballers now runs 29 programs in countries such as Bangladesh, Senegal, Nepal, Afghanistan, Uganda and the Philippines. They have helped more than 46 000 children; created Bangladesh’s first Basketball League, built basketball courts, and donated more than $280 000 worth of equipment and resources to orphanages, schools and charities aimed at youth.

For his achievements, Pierre won the 2010 ACT Young Australian of the Year award. He was also nominated for an International Peace & Sport Awards for the achievements of his organisation.

Jessica Avalon (Australian National University)

  • Bachelor of Asia Pacific Studies/LLB 2015

Social justice is close to Asia Pacific and Law student Jessica Avalon’s heart. Her passion, leadership and commitment to cause has been recognised at both the academic and professional level.

On campus, Jessica raised the profile of gender-based issues through her presidency of the ANU Circle for Gender Equity. She was also integral to enhancing the outreach and discussion of gender-based social topics.

Access to justice for disadvantaged groups is a keen passion of Jessica’s and she has been fortunate to fulfil this XX through her work with the Women’s Legal Centre, the Australian Committee for UN Women, ANU Law Reform and Social Justice, and Bridges Across Borders South East Asia Community Legal Education.

In 2012 and 2013, Jessica organised for more than 30 ANU undergraduate students to participate in a fundraising trek in the Blue Mountains to raise funds for Timorese communities. She spent a month in Timor-Leste to act as an international electoral observer and visited one of the local communities assisted by the fundraising trek.

Jessica’s leadership skills were demonstrated through her founding secretary role with the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association at ANU. She also held a role as Asia Pacific Learning Community Coordinator, where she organised eight functions including a forum on Myanmar politics.

Ben Duggan (Australian National University)

  • Bachelor of Arts 2014

Ben Duggan is a familiar face for anyone around ANU. From Chairman of the ANU Union Board to the Vice-Chancellor’s Leadership Program and with many lectures and tutorials in between, Ben’s six years at ANU were highly productive.

But it was the combination of on and off campus life that helped open Ben’s eyes to a world of possibilities. Ben spent his first few ANU years working for former Federal MP Dr Mike Kelly. Visiting local schools from Queanbeyan to Bega helped Ben discover his passion for supporting students to get the most out of their education.

In 2011, Ben left Dr Kelly’s office to create the Raising Hope Education Foundation, aiming to convince his fellow ANU students to volunteer in local schools. Ben wanted to encourage school students to follow their dreams by supporting them to believe in themselves.

He formally established Raising Hope in 2012, supported by local principals and business leaders. Over the past few years, hundreds of ANU students have volunteered for Raising Hope, going into schools and helping through mentoring, tutoring and other roles. The foundation has received over $100,000 in funding.

In 2014, Ben was selected by the US Ambassador to participate in a prestigious three-week leadership exchange, the International Visitor Leadership Program. The program saw Ben visit schools, universities and businesses in America with the US Department of State.

While focusing on Raising Hope, Ben has volunteered with a number of other organisations, including White Ribbon, Movember, the National Student Leadership Forum, YMCA and Oaktree Foundation. He has also spent two years on the board of directors of Bendigo Community Banks in Canberra.