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Final batch of students makes the grade

The Australian National University has wrapped up its graduations for 2011 with yesterday's ceremonies for the Asia and the Pacific, engineering and computer science and arts and social sciences faculties.

Chenda Keo, from Cambodia, received his PhD in sociology yesterday for his thesis on the trafficking of Cambodian children to work in Thailand. Dr Keo became interested in the stories of child slavery while working for the International Organisation for Migration in 2006. A number of children found themselves working in Thailand selling flowers on the streets, he said.

''Most didn't think of themselves as victims, but rather as heroes and heroines for their ability to work and support their impoverished families.''

Dr Keo will return to Cambodia to his position as technical adviser to the Cambodian National Council for Children.

Sonam Wangmo and Kinga Wangmo will also return home to Bhutan, after completing their masters degrees from the Crawford School of Economics and Government. Sonam Wangmo completed a masters in environmental management and will return to her position with the Royal Audit Authority. Kinga Wangmo was awarded her masters in international development economics and will return to her position at the Ministry for Finance.

Rachael Thoms, of Orange, received her bachelors of music (voice) with first-class honours yesterday.


She sang the national anthem at the Wednesday and Thursday ceremonies and performed the aria Sempre Libera from La Traviata at the Law ceremony on Thursday.

''I've sung in Llewellyn Hall many times but never with that many people,'' Ms Thoms said.

''Whenever I've been performing in there it's been in the context of my degree to about 20 people, so to perform to over 1000 people was great.

''This year I've also recorded a jazz album with Luke Sweeting at James Morrison's studio in Sydney which was released in September at the School of Music.''

The pair plan to tour with the album next year and are lining up venues in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and other major centres.

Ms Thoms has been teaching in the pre-tertiary program, mainly with Year 11 and 12 voice students and plans to continue her work next year as she starts her masters.

Also in the creative field, Laura Clarke from a property near Nimmitabel has taken her love of stories and her involvement in the university community to new levels.

Ms Clarke graduated with a BA (New Media Arts) with honours after producing a documentary about rural life on the Monaro.

Ms Clarke was also the winner of the university's oldest and most prestigious prize, the Tillyard Prize for her contribution to university life.

Ms Clarke is also establishing her own film production business.