The Alumni of the Year Awards is the most distinguished honour given to alumni who have demonstrated achievements at a local, national or international level and who have made an outstanding contribution to their profession, community and country through exemplary leadership, integrity and innovation.
We would like to congratulate Aleesha Kalulu as the Alumni of the Year 2023 for her outstanding contribution to Vanuatu in establishing the inaugural Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) surveillance system. This involved meticulously monitoring every vaccine administered during COVID, ensuring the prompt detection of potential adverse effects.
Aleesha explains ‘on a personal note, receiving this award is confirmation that I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing professionals who have enabled me to use my education and develop in the workforce to where I am able to achieve such honours, and that is very reassuring to know as I still have a long way to go in my field. Professionally, I am honoured to receive this award and it is further proof that with a good education and a workplace conducive to growth that young people in the public service are able to strive for professional success while contributing towards the betterment of our government’s services for our communities‘.
Aleesha graduated from the University of Canberra with a Bachelor of Public Health and is a visionary leader with a profound commitment to Vanuatu’s healthcare system. In her role as a Senior Vaccine Safety Surveillance Officer at the Ministry of Health, her initiative to implement this AEFI system marked a pivotal moment in Vanuatu’s public health landscape.
When asked what drives Aleesha to continue making positive change within Vanuatu’s health sector she further explains ‘I have had the opportunity to work in all 6 provinces of Vanuatu and witness just how much my fellow health workers work hard to deliver health services to all corners of the country. They inspire me to continue working hard alongside them towards positive changes in the health sector as well as better health services for Vanuatu‘.
We also congratulate Jennifer Kalpokas Doan as runner-up of this award, for her ongoing efforts in promoting women in leadership through her work across Vanuatu and the Pacific.
Jennifer graduated with a Master of Public Administration from the Australian National University and is the Executive Director of Balance of Power. Jennifer’s advice in the area of promoting women in leadership is twofold as she explains ‘to women who are in, or are stepping into, formal positions of leadership, take courage in knowing that others have chartered the waters before you and that we are called to serve in one way or another – and that is the essence of true leadership. Remain grounded in your values, seek counsel in those you trust, and serve with humility and confidence in the abilities you have been blessed with.
To all women and men, young and old, remember that leadership is not always a position. It is an exercise, and one that we all do in all aspects of our lives, whether in the home, at your workplace, in your church, community, at the provincial or national level. Do not compromise the qualities of what it is to lead, with the confusion of having power and control‘.