25 November 2022

Jessica Stenson

Commonwealth Games gold medallist and the fastest Australian runner at this year’s New York City Marathon, Jessica Stenson, is among the recipients of the 2022 University of South Australia Alumni Awards.

The annual awards, which showcase the most distinguished members of the University’s 230,000-strong global alumni community, will be recognised at a gala dinner at UniSA’s Pridham Hall tomorrow night.

Other alumni to be honoured alongside Stenson this year are Thomas Foods International Group Managing Director Darren Thomas; ABC journalist and presenter Sabra Lane; and co-leader of the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity theme at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Dr Odette Pearson.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the Alumni Awards pay tribute to the pioneers, innovators, and changemakers who have been influenced by their time at UniSA.

Darren Thomas

“We are proud of what we can offer our students when they are with us, and even prouder of what they do with their education when they leave,” Prof Lloyd says.

“The alumni we are honouring this year have consistently excelled in their chosen fields.

“Knowledge, practical skills, ambition and a sense of what’s possible are vital, and our four award winners this year have made a significant difference with their commitment and determination.

“We are delighted to honour them.”

Jessica Stenson credits her physiotherapy studies at the University of South Australia for helping her to become a better athlete, and her experience of running and motherhood with making her a more rounded health professional.

“Running allows you to objectively measure self-improvement really easily,” Stenson says.

Sabra Lane

“It has provided me with great friendships and opportunities to travel and represent Australia.”

Darren Thomas, an accounting graduate, says he did not grow up thinking he wanted to be an accountant.

“But the degree really set the foundation of what I was able to learn and progress throughout my life,” he says.

Thomas travels the world meeting customers and building relationships, but he recognises the sacrifices his parents made to help build the family company into the $2.5 billion enterprise it is today.

“In Australia we take it for granted there’s food on the table, food in the supermarkets, but imagine if you’re in a country that can’t produce enough food,” Thomas says.

“That’s our competitive advantage; providing safe, clean, green food.”

Journalism graduate Sabra Lane says she feels a responsibility to her radio audience to ask the questions they want answered.

Dr Odette Pearson

“How do we make people accountable for their decisions when they clearly don’t want to be?” Lane says.

“I want Australia to be a better place and that responsibility weighs heavily on my shoulders sometimes.”

With a PhD from the University of South Australia, Dr Odette Pearson continues to research the influence of primary health care on diabetes outcomes at SAHMRI, one of the first institutions to recognise Aboriginal health as a stand-alone theme and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In March this year Dr Pearson was appointed Co-leader Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Equity theme, and data sovereignty and community consultation remain at the core of her research.

“We heard loud and clear that research needed to be done the right way, respectfully and in partnership,” Dr Pearson says.

For more information about the 2022 University of South Australia Alumni Awards and the graduates honoured and their achievements, visit the website:



Media contact: Candy Gibson M: +61 434 605 142 E: candy.gibson@unisa.edu.au

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