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UC honours outstanding young alumni

30 October 2023

The University of Canterbury is proud to announce its inaugural Young Alumni Award winners – five exceptional individuals from health and equity barrier-breakers to fierce emerging leaders.


As part of Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury’s (UC) 150th anniversary celebrations, the exceptional accomplishments of these inspirational young changemakers were celebrated at a Young Alumni Awards ceremony on Saturday. 

Part of UC’s 150th Anniversary Alumni and Community Weekend, the first winners of Young Alumni Awards were fêted in an evening awards ceremony. The five 2023 UC Young Alumni Award winners are: Eli Matthewson, Keegan Jones, Julia Arnott-Neenee and Roshit Bothara, and current student Sarah How.

“On behalf of the University, I congratulate each award recipient on this well-deserved recognition of their accomplishments, and I look forward to witnessing their continued success and contributions to society,” Amokapua | Assistant Vice-Chancellor Engagement Brett Berquist says.

“Each award recipient is an exemplar of leadership, affecting positive change that is driven by their curiosity, ambition for equity and innovation. Engagement is at the heart of the University and their stories illustrate the profound impact it can have on individuals and the broader community.”

The Young Alumni Awards were launched as part of the University’s sesquicentennial anniversary to recognise graduates and students aged 35 or under for their passionate mahi in their field of expertise.

2023 Young Alumni Award recipients:

Creative Arts – Eli Matthewson

Arts graduate Eli Matthewson’s commitment to the performing arts was clear from his student days at UC. An award-winning comedian, he is an advocate for Rainbow causes and one of the leading voices of Aotearoa New Zealand’s entertainment industry. More here>

Community Impact – Keegan Jones
Since graduating with a double bachelor's degree in law and commerce last year, Keegan Jones has successfully established Northland’s first collaborative legal services clinic, providing support to whānau who need a lawyer but are unsure how to engage one or find it difficult to cover the costs. Read more>

Innovation and Entrepreneurship – Julia Arnott-Neenee 
After her tech career took her to Australia, United Kingdom and United States, Julia Arnott-Neenee returned to Aotearoa determined to share her knowledge and expertise and to improve accessibility and equity for Pacific people in local technology, business and commercial sectors. Read her story>

International – Roshit Bothara
During his medical studies, paediatric registrar Roshit Bothara began developing a learning model for medical students in different countries to learn about each other’s health systems and cultures via videoconferencing. The global initiative has seen him win several international awards. More here>

Rising Star – Sarah How
Sarah How’s accomplishments such as leading the community-centred design approach within the Mycoplasma Bovis Programme - New Zealand’s largest ever biosecurity response, and her ongoing research, development and volunteer work mentoring to activate people and ideas in the food and fibre industry demonstrate her unyielding dedication to guiding and mentoring future industry professionals. Read more>

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