Family celebrates graduation together


Cooranbong, New South Wales

Two generations of one family received three awards in as many levels at Avondale College of Higher Education’s year end graduation celebration this past weekend.

. . . the level of enjoyment [at graduation] increases when I see the success of a family group such as the Rankins.

More than 30 years since first enrolling as an undergraduate at Avondale, Paul Rankin is the second student to graduate with a PhD but the first to begin and end the award at the college of higher education. His son Caleb received an undergraduate award—a Bachelor of Environmental Science—and youngest daughter Rachel a vocational education and training award—a Diploma in Outdoor Recreation.

Dr Rankin first visited the Lake Macquarie campus as a six-year-old in 1963. Four years later, his father Ian graduated from the theology course. Dr Rankin returned in 1980, also as a theology student. He helped establish what is now the Avondale Students’ Association and served as its first president before graduating in 1983.

These experiences and the opportunity to study with one of his “great mates,” fellow hang gliding enthusiast and supervisor Dr Darren Morton, brought Dr Rankin back to Avondale. His children have also benefitted from this level of care and encouragement. “The support Avondale’s given to us has impressed me,” he said.

Some of Caleb’s lecturers worked out of hours to mentor him throughout his course. Now, his academic achievements have enabled Caleb to consider applying for an honours degree.

Classmates of Rachel—the 18-year-old enrolled after completing Year 10—“almost adopted her as a younger sister”, Dr Rankin said. The academic and social support she received helped enhance her leadership skills. Rachel is volunteering at Jombok Hoas, an adventure learning centre operated by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Cambodia, for six months next year.

While academic registrar Dr Gwen Wilkinson enjoys celebrating the success of each graduate, “the level of enjoyment increases when I see the success of a family group such as the Rankins”.

Paul, Caleb and Rachel are three of the 264 graduates who marched into the Chan Shun Auditorium during the graduation service on Sunday.