Macksville's Emily MacDonald has recently received the Young Alumni prize at this year's Bond University Alumni Awards, a fitting reward for a young woman who has devoted a lot of her time to helping others.
"I'm excited, I was surprised but extremely excited, and honoured to be nominated," she said.
Ms MacDonald graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Psychological Science, and despite a hectic study schedule, she still found time to volunteer for good causes.
"I led a student-run aid program in the East Kimberley, in conjunction with Save the Children Australia, we facilitated a school holiday program for local children, who experience some of the highest levels of crime, domestic violence and mental illness in Australia," she said.
"I also worked as a support officer for the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ITAS) at Bond Uni from 2014-2017 and at the University of Queensland since 2017.
Coming from a really small town, I saw the importance of supporting other students living away from home to enjoy university and find opportunities to excel.Emily MacDonald
"In 2018, I received recognition from the Queensland Law Society for my efforts to improve Indigenous education and employment outcomes, which was a great honour."
With an already impressive list of achievements, the 24-year-old has credited her small-town upbringing in Macksville as an influence for helping others.
"Coming from a really small town, I saw the importance of supporting other students living away from home to enjoy university and find opportunities to excel," she said.
"University can be overwhelming for students from small towns, sometimes we don't know what to expect, and without mentors, we can relate to, I think that's where the retention rates fall."
During her time at Bond, MacDonald opted into the newly-introduced Beyond Bond professional development programme, a decision which had a lasting impact on her.
"A lot of the things you're required to do to complete the Beyond Bond programme, you're also required to do in large workplaces, skills such as self-reflection and accepting feedback are incredibly valuable skills, which I took with me in the transition from uni to work," she said.
Even now, working as an Insurance and Corporate Risk lawyer, Ms MacDonald has retained strong relationships with some of her Bond lecturers.
"I have talked to other people, and I don't think they've had a similar experience where their teachers and their fellow students became a professional and personal mentor to them, and I think that the culture of really supporting each other is unique to Bond," she said.