Student Award 2011 RMIT


The 2011 VALA Student Award for a student at RMIT University goes to Ben Chadwick.

Ben spent ten years as a psychologist working in clinical and research roles. He says that soon after graduating with his PhD in Clinical Psychology in 2006, he decided to do some “real work”, and spent two years as an at-home parent. During that time he studied some IT courses and discovered his passion for information management.

His family moved from Brisbane to Melbourne in 2010, where he worked at the State Library of Victoria and commenced the Graduate Diploma of Information Management at RMIT, where he was seen as the ideal student – focussed and serious, but also laid-back and playful. Studying both online and face-to-face, he was a highly motivated and engaged student who generously contributed his knowledge and understanding in class to benefit the learning of others. Ben achieved a High Distinction in every course studied and extended his interest in technology by including a Web Programming course as his elective. He was supportive of staff and has embraced his new field with enthusiasm and intelligence.

Ben demonstrates excellent technical capability balanced with a strong research background and healthy curiosity about people and life. He hopes to capitalise on his background in academic research and statistics by working with metadata for scholarly works, especially data curation. Besides his geeky passion for computer programming, Ben enjoys spending his spare time mowing, doing dishes, and changing nappies.

Congratulations, Ben, and good luck!

Student Award 2011 Monash


The 2011 VALA Student Award for a student at Monash University goes to Linlin Zhao.

Linlin has a passion for learning, education and research. In China, she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and a secondary teaching certificate. In 2001 and 2002, she worked as a secondary school teacher in China, and in 2003 was course coordinator of a Chinese as a Foreign Language course, teaching international students Chinese.

Linlin came to Australia in 2004, undertaking an English language course and then a Master of Education degree at Monash University. Linlin completed her Master of Education in 2005. Linlin is a ‘born teacher’, with a natural ability for imparting knowledge to those of all ages and from diverse backgrounds; she is a great communicator, with a contagious enthusiasm for learning, and a strong creative flair. From teaching secondary school students and adults, Linlin broadened her education base by completing a Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education at RMIT in 2006. Since 2006, she has worked as a kindergarten teacher in Melbourne, as well as a private tutor for students studying Chinese as a Second Language.

In 2009, Linlin decided to extend her education career into the field of information management. While still working full-time as a kindergarten teacher, she enrolled in the Monash Graduate Diploma in Information and Knowledge Management (GDIKM), completing her course in mid-2011. She wanted to further develop her research and information skills. Linlin envisaged a career in academic libraries or public libraries or in archives. On her course, she had a variety of work experience in academic and public libraries. Since completing her course, she has had several short-term contract positions and ongoing part-time work at Monash University Library, Deakin University Library and Hobsons Bay Libraries in information services and technical services roles.

Linlin’s academic performance in the GDIKM has been exceptional, achieving seven High Distinctions and one Distinction in the eight course units, and an overall average of 84.75%, and the highest grade in the class for several of her units. With her strong motivation to learn and explore new areas, her dedication and perseverance, she was a delight to have in class, a great contributor of original ideas and insights. Linlin’s special qualities have also been widely recognised by the information professionals, managers and clients she has interacted with/ worked with. She is a very deserving recipient of the 2011 VALA student award, and will make a significant contribution to the information management professions.

Congratulations, Linlin, and good luck!

Student Award 2010 RMIT

The 2010 VALA Student Award for a student at RMIT University goes to Carrie Thomas.

Carrie is a part time mature-age student who has attained superb results, and has been working part time while studying, managing a home and primary school-aged children. She has achieved consistent High Distinction in all courses at RMIT and has impressed the staff there with her level of commitment and involvement with her cohort. She has excelled in all the technical courses offered, with particularly high marks for Information Organization.

Her previous career was as a paintings conservator, where she worked to preserve the physicality of these cultural objects. However, all cultural collections lose meaning if their information is not cared for, and she chose to study Information Management because she was interested in the way information about museum collections is managed and hoped to change career in this direction. Although the RMIT program is a route to librarianship, she felt that it would also provide her with skills and experience which could be applied more broadly, and she has found that to be so. For example, while studying she has done work experience at the Discovery Centre of the Melbourne Museum, at the Shaw Research Library at the National Gallery of Victoria, at the Picture Collection of the State Library of Victoria and also with Culture Victoria, where she applied Victoria’s Framework of Historic Themes (a simple two level taxonomic structure) to the digital cultural assets on the Culture Victoria website. She now has her first “information management” job, verifying catalogue records at the NGV to ensure the consistency and accuracy of data prior to collection information being added to the public website.

Carrie says that while combining study with family commitments and work experience has been a juggle, she has absolutely loved studying and being introduced to the current information culture after a long absence from formal study. It has opened her mind to many possibilities, and while she hopes to continue to work with heritage collections, this might well take her into libraries or areas such as digital asset management in the future.

Congratulations, Carrie, and good luck!

Student Award 2010 Monash

The 2010 VALA Student Award for a student at Monash University goes to Debra Dorfan.

Debra is a hardworking and committed mother and professional-to-be. She struggles to manage her scarce time and resources very carefully. As a mature-age student with 3 primary school age children, she embarked on study at Monash University partly to prove that she was not too old to follow her dreams and partly because she realised that she had decades of working life ahead and that she might as well be doing something she is passionate about.

Initially her ambitions were small: to become a librarian. An obvious advantage of that would be that she would have a specific occupation rather than just a nebulous, vague statement about working in human resources and administration that was her previous work identity, which always made her feel inadequate.


After four long years of juggling one subject per semester, a part-time job, a family and a home, she is now at the end of a new road. Thanks to the Monash course structure, she is no longer scared of facing technology (including its jargon) and its implications. Information and knowledge and the management of them are the buzz everywhere, and Debbie feels she now has the skills and can tap into resources to be part of the solution rather than just pondering the problem.

When thinking where she will go with her new qualifications she is excited, because she believes we are at a new frontier, and as an information professional she will be helping to shape the landscape, and to make decisions and formulate strategies and solutions that will form the future.

Debra believes that as that future is not yet clear, her occupational choices are not totally defined and to a large extent will be what professionals make of them. On a more practical level, she aims to find a good job in a library to consolidate her learning and to get industry experience.

Congratulations, Debbie, and good luck!

Student Award 2009 Monash

The 2009 VALA Student Award for a student at Monash University goes to Iris Perkins.

Iris completed her Monash Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) degree last November, after studying part-time since 2004. She had an overall average of over 82% across the units she had taken, including eight ‘High Distinctions’ and three ‘Distinctions’.

Iris had a background in school librarianship, having gained her Bachelor of Education (School Librarianship) from Monash Gippsland in the 1980s. More recently, she has been working in academic libraries, and is currently the Campus Librarian/Library Manager at the Shepparton Campus of La Trobe University.

Iris has a wide interest across the information and knowledge management field, and has used her studies as a way of expanding her understanding of the wider information field. In her MIMS degree, Iris has undertaken professional tracks in electronic recordkeeping and archiving and in knowledge management. She has completed two special project units—one on digital preservation, and the other on the use of e-books by nursing students at her library. For her electives, she has taken one unit on the ‘Multimedia Industry’ and another on ‘History and the Museum.’ This clearly demonstrates Iris’s breadth of interest in information management.

Her outstanding performance is evidenced through the following comments from her project supervisors:

For her project on digital preservation:

‘A well written and presented literature review, that clearly demonstrates the depth of knowledge you have gained in this area and shows that you are capable of synthesising and distilling a clear argument from a range of published sources – an especially tricky task given the burgeoning and diverse literature available on the topic of digital preservation. Your review was extremely readable – the nature and number of the notes I made on my copy is testament to the interesting questions raised in your collation of the literature.

For her project on e-book usage by nursing students at La Trobe University Library, Shepparton:

‘Her work was thorough and original; very little objective research has been undertaken to determine readers’ perceptions of e-books. She worked conscientiously with minimal supervision, and produced a publishable conference paper as a result. Her findings, contrary to the market research emanating from vendors, were important. She found that most students did not use e-books unless they had no alternatives, and that the lecturing staff were an important influence on whether students adopted ebooks or not.’

Monash University staff said that Iris’s demonstrated commitment to expanding her horizons in the information arena, and her outstanding academic performance, make her an ideal candidate for the VALA award.

Congratulations, Iris!


Student Award 2009 RMIT


The 2009 VALA student Award for a student at RMIT University goes to Angela Hogan.

The top student at RMIT in the technical subjects in the Graduate Diploma in Information Management, Angela finished the diploma in June, and has gone on to study in the Master of Business Information Technology, while also working sessionally for RMIT as a tutor.

It could be said that Angela’s career has evolved into information management. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Philosophy, she started to work at the Department of Defence in the Defence Library Service. It was there she was given the opportunity to move into content management, where she got a taste of how important it is for information to be accurate, accessible and reliable and how critical it is to an organisation’s success. Whether this is making decisions on how to increase profits or how to improve outcomes for clients, in the social services context, the quality and accessibility of an organisation’s information is crucial to its success. This realisation, and having the opportunity to have that level of impact on an organisation’s outcome, is what led her to seek out further studies.

After looking at different information management courses, she decided to do the Graduate Diploma of Information Management at RMIT, because of its high quality teaching and its practical focus. She really enjoyed doing the Graduate Diploma of Information Management, and believes this has given her a solid foundation in the field of information management. She says the staff at RMIT provided her with a supportive and rich learning environment, while her fellow students shared their wide range of experiences in information management.

With her qualification, she was able to pursue a job opportunity as a Business Analyst on an information project for the Department of Human Services, while studying part time for that Masters of Business (Information Technology) to further her knowledge.

One day Angela would like to become the Chief Information Officer of some organisation, and she believes the Grad Dip has put her on this path.

Congratulations, Angela, and good luck!


Student Award 2008 Monash


The 2008 VALA Student Award for a student at Monash University goes to Esmae Boutros.

Majoring in Librarianship and Recordkeeping and Archiving, Esmae achieved 5 High Distinctions, 4 Distinctions, and one credit. Some time ago, she undertook a BA degree at Monash in Linguistics and Physiology.

For her the Master of Information Management and Systems degree has provided the context for the importance of all the administrative and conceptual tools that she has gathered over the years for the management of data and information. These skills have been necessary to complete the tasks she has been set in employed or voluntary situations, and for effective survival from day-to-day. It not only gave her the ‘why’ for the ‘what’, but also gave her a passion to keep on the cutting edge of ‘how’.

Currently Esmae is Assistant Registrar at Donvale Christian College, where she is responsible for the availability of accurate information regarding the number of students coming into and leaving the school community at any point of time. Such information is necessary for strategic thinking, budgeting, employment of academic and support staff, resource management, and the fulfilment of governance obligations.

In the past, she has worked as a Legal Secretary, with the primary role of creating, capturing, organising, and selectively pluralising records of legal (or illegal) actions. She managed an Intranet to promote collaborative relationships and sharing via a centralised repository for documents and work spaces. She has also worked as Executive Secretary to the Director, Research and Development, World Vision Australia.

At some point in the future she would love to play a role in the preservation and dissemination of valuable records that cannot currently be accessed. She also wants to see libraries hold their own in the provision of quality information by the discerning use of past experience and new technologies.

Congratulations, Esmae!

Student Award 2008 RMIT


The 2008 VALA student Award for a student at RMIT University goes to Alice Fahey.

The top student at RMIT in the Graduate Diploma in Information Management, Alice told us that she would have to say that she fell into libraries/information management. She started working as a Customer Service Officer at Darebin Libraries towards the end of her Arts Degree (Linguistics and Japanese). It was only half way through a second undergraduate degree (Speech Pathology) that she decided she might actually prefer a career in libraries.

She chose to do the Graduate Diploma of Information Management at RMIT because she wanted to study face-to-face rather than online and the course seemed to have a practical focus. She really enjoyed the breadth of the course and thinks it provides great preparation for work in a variety of library and information management contexts. She believes that enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff and classmates were also one of the most valuable aspects of the course.

At this stage she is not exactly sure what she hopes to do in the future. She has loved working as a customer service officer in a public library but she is also looking forward to getting stuck into the more technical behind-the-scenes tasks in her new job at Deakin University. Congratulations, Alice!


Student Award Monash 2001 to 2007

The VALA Student Awards for students at Monash University from 2001 to 2007

  • 2007 Rebecca French
  • 2006 Mary Neazor
  • 2005 Penelope Legge
  • 2004 Christina Davidson
  • 2003 Suzie Geermans
  • 2002 Emma Downing
  • 2001 Robert Rochester


Student Award RMIT 2001 to 2007

The VALA Student Awards for students at RMIT University from 2001 to 2007

  • 2007 Marion Slawson
  • 2006 Anna Farrell
  • 2005 Rosemary Smith
  • 2004 Simone Pakin
  • 2003 Helen Shipperlee
  • 2002 Zoe Velonis
  • 2001 Carol Bradford