A fashion designer, a clinical neurologist, and a philanthropist are just three of the exceptional University of Newcastle graduates named recipients in this year’s Alumni Awards.

The Awards recognise professional excellence, innovation, creativity, exceptional leadership and those who inspire others in a range of fields through local, national or international service.

The recipients of all eight categories have been announced tonight during a gala dinner at Newcastle City Hall.

Norwegian-born designer and business woman, Ms Linda Bergskas, took out the Newton-John Award, presented to a graduate displaying innovation or creativity that improves life.

Ms Bergskas, who graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Visual Communication Design in 2002, is behind the rising fashion label Guanabana, which debuted at Australian Fashion Week in 2010.

Guanabana is now a global brand stocked in more than 100 stores in Australia, Japan, the US and Norway. The label has been worn by high-profile celebrities including tennis champion Serena Williams and model Jennifer Hawkins.

Clinical Neurologist Associate Professor Mark Parsons was jointly awarded the Alumni Medal and philanthropist Jennie Thomas was recognised with the Alumni Award for Exceptional Community Service.

Other recipients:

  • Young Alumni Award  – Dr Glenn Platt (Theme leader, Local Energy Systems, CSIRO)
  • Indigenous Alumni AwardDr Donna Odegaard (Chief Executive, Radio Larrakia Darwin)
  • Alumni Award for Exceptional Community ServiceMs Jennie Thomas (Philanthropist)
  • Alumni Award for Regional LeadershipDr Frances Gentle (Lecturer, Vision Impairment, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children)
  • Alumni Award for National LeadershipDr Peter Halliday (Founder and Managing Director, Elite IT Services)
  • Alumni Award for International LeadershipMs Tiffany See (Executive Director, Human Resources, Commercial Business Unit, Dell Inc.)
  • Alumni Medal joint winners Professor David Currow (Chief Executive Officer, Cancer Institute NSW) and Associate Professor Mark Parsons (Senior Staff Specialist in Neurology, John Hunter Hospital; Associate Professor in Medicine; and Director, HMRI Stroke Research Program).