Smiles as dental graduate honoured
Bethany Cunning is pictured after the release of first-round university offers in 2010.
Bethany Cunning achieved the highest weighted average mark across the bachelor of health sciences dentistry at La Trobe University.
WHEN Bethany Cunning last featured in the Bendigo Advertiser she was celebrating after being accepted into one of Victoria's most prestigious university courses.
Five and a half-years on, Ms. Cunning is being hailed as top of her bachelor of health services dentistry class at La Trobe University's Bendigo campus.
Speaking in January 2010, the former Girton Grammar student told the Advertiser she chose La Trobe because she could live at home.
She continues to credit much of her success in winning the prize as the fifth-year student with the highest weighted average mark across the entire course to that stay-at-home factor.
"I was very surprised. It's a big honour," she said.
"It was a lot of hard work, but we got there in the end.
"It was a really good course and it meant I was able to stay in a rural area which is what I really wanted to do.
"My lecturers were really helpful and I truly appreciated being able to stay at home and study."
Ms. Cunning could easily qualify as the poster girl for research that shows 75 per cent of students who study at the local La Trobe campus stay and work in the Bendigo region.
She works five-days a week at Kennington Dental and is also considering further study.
Ms. Cunning was one of about 150 students or graduates honoured at the university's prize and scholarship ceremony at Ulumbarra Theatre last week.
It was an opportunity to acknowledge the university's brightest and best students.
Head of Bendigo campus Robert Stephenson said it was also a chance to celebrate the support and encouragement given to students by the community.
"We have a lot of very generous local donors who believe that for a lot of our students it's important that they get financial support to complete their tertiary studies,"
"A lot of the awards are for people who not have otherwise been able to come to uni without some of that financial support.
"Additionally for those who were perhaps here anyway, some scholarship support means they can spend more time in their studies rather than having to work."
Mr Stephenson talked up the Bendigo campus' reputation as an increasingly attractive option for students across the country, especially in the physiotherapy, pharmacy and dentistry fields.
"Our dentistry program has one of the highest ATARs in the country. We are way up into the 90s to get in to dentistry in Bendigo," he said.
"Students in dentistry come from all over the country.
"For the future of the city, those people make connections and they will stay here. It's fantastic to bring with new ideas to the city."
(As appeared on the Bendigo Advertiser online).
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