Comedian Hannah Gadsby receives ANU Alumna of the Year 2019

29 Mar 2019

Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby has been awarded The Australian National University Alumna of the Year Award.

ANU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt AC said Hannah was deserving of the accolade for her fierce social commentary promoting gender equity and LGBTIQ issues that has reached millions of people.

"She has received international recognition for her insight into trauma and abuse - and has fought to make visible those whose situations often go unseen," he said.

"These are values we live by at ANU, and hope our whole community share throughout their lives."

Hannah, who rose to global notoriety with her stand-up show Nanette, said she was "pretty chuffed" to receive the honour although she acknowledged that she hadn't perhaps been the best student.

She also advises recent graduates not to put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect.

"To be perfect and young is an utterly impossible thing to be so, please, take it easy on yourself. You need to make your mistakes so you can learn from them, because then you have a better chance at becoming a pretty good older person. And the world really needs great older people far more than it needs perfect young people."

Hannah Gadsby graduated with an ANU Art History degree in 2003 which has helped inform some of her comedic works, including a comedy art program on BBC Radio 4.

Other 2019 ANU Alumni of the Year awards went to ACT Magistrate Louise Taylor for her impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and access to justice for women in the community, and Sir Mike Brady FRS for his contribution to science, particularly the impact of his medical research on diagnostic imaging patients.

Alexandra Clare was awarded the Young Alumna of the Year Award for her humanitarian advocacy through Re:Coded, which creates professional opportunities in the technology industry for youth in conflict-affected countries across the Middle East, while Lauren Dreyar and James Connolly were recognised for their volunteer work.

The awards were presented at the annual gala dinner tonight, where Professor Schmidt also launched a new fundraising campaign to help provide scholarships to make ANU accessible for all students admitted to ANU.

"We recognise talent is everywhere, opportunity is not, and these fundraising efforts will focus on student support to give any student with the will and capacity to succeed the opportunity to study at ANU," Professor Schmidt said.

The gala dinner is the first event in the inaugural ANU Welcome Back: Alumni Weekend which includes a number of events and activities for ANU alumni, friends and their families.