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Bond salutes Derek Cronin as top alumni for 2024

awards
Bond University Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Tim Brailsford, Young Alumni Award winner Xavier Phillips, Robert Stable Medal winner Derek Cronin, Alumni Award for Community Achievement winner Alexandra Stratigos and Chancellor the Honourable Annabelle Bennett AC SC.

Bond University honoured its top graduates at the 2024 Alumni Awards Dinner on May 16. These were  the winners.

Robert Stable Medal - Derek Cronin 

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Derek Cronin.

Derek Cronin received Bond University’s top alumni award 35 years after he first walked into class as one of the university’s original 322 students.

In the years since, Mr Cronin (Class of 1989) founded leading Gold Coast law firm Cronin Miller Litigation Lawyers, has been an advocate for equality and inclusion, and maintained close ties with his alma mater.

He served on the Bond University Council from 2015 to 2023, was Chair of the Bond Alumni Advisory Board for six years, and is a member of the Bond Law Advisory Board.

Mr Cronin has also been a supporter of the Bond Law Clinic since its inception a decade ago, providing pro bono advice to the community.

Outside Bond, he contributed his legal and advocacy knowledge to the Queensland Aids Council as its Vice-President from 2012 to 2018 and has advocated for increased government funding for the Gold Coast Project for Homeless Youth as a member of its board.

Mr Cronin supports various community groups through Cronin Miller Litigation Lawyers, which he has grown to a team of more than 20 since establishing the firm in 2007.

He is particularly proud of his involvement in Women of Influence, promoting gender equality and diversity.

“We have more women in management roles than men. We don’t just talk, we practise what we preach,” he said.

More than three decades on, Mr Cronin remains the unofficial chief organiser for the ‘originals’ cohort who catch-up every few years – this year at Burleigh Brewing, owned by fellow ‘892’ Peta Fielding.

“I’ve definitely worn a number of different hats at the university,” Mr Cronin said.

“I relished the role on the Bond University Council and with the alumni team, I felt I had a lot to give to help it develop and ensure we were properly engaging with graduates.

“The Bond spirit is what we live with when we attend the university, and it stays with us. I’ve been in London, New York, Hong Kong and Dubai over the years and, whenever I’m in another part of the world, I always manage to find a Bondie to catch-up with.”

Mr Cronin, who graduated with a Bachelor of Laws, was presented with the Robert Stable Medal, named in honour of Bond University’s sixth Vice Chancellor. 

Alumni Award for Community Achievement - Alexandra Stratigos

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Alexandra Stratigos.

Alexandra Stratigos’s career has been shaped by a gap year in Africa.

Fresh from completing her law degree at Bond University in 2007, she went to Ghana to travel and work with the intention of returning home to kick off her corporate career.

“Having grown up on the Gold Coast it was really my first exposure to people living with HIV,” Ms Stratigos (Class of 2004) said.

“There were kids with HIV in the orphanage where I was volunteering and, later, I engaged in pro bono legal work with adolescent boys in pre-trial detention, many of whom were also positive.

“That exposure to people from different walks of life formed the foundation of a new pathway for me.”

She has worked for the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre (HALC) in Sydney since returning to Australia in 2009, including as principal solicitor from 2016, building a power-packed portfolio of cases that protect the rights and improve the lives of one of the most marginalised groups in society.

At just 29, she won a High Court appeal for a man convicted of intentionally transmitting to his partner.

Ms Stratigos has shared her knowledge with students and professionals across the world, including at Bond, through legal education lectures and conferences.

She looks back fondly at her time at the university, particularly opening her Gold Coast home to the many new friends she made.

“I was part of a lot of student organisations including Drama Society and the University Games, where I played hockey and touch football. I’m not sure when I had time to study,” she said.

“I really enjoyed my time at Bond and made many life-long friends.”

Young Alumni Award - Xavier Phillips 

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Xavier Phillips.

Xavier Phillips (Class of 2021) was among the first students to enrol in Bond University’s Bachelor of Entrepreneurial Transformation in 2019.

“Coming in I thought the degree was an opportunity to make a difference and shape something significant, although I didn’t fully appreciate the scope of what it could be,” Mr Phillips said.

“It is very rewarding to see the CoLab continue and iterate past me as a legacy, and it is something I’m quite proud of.”

Mr Phillips continues to be a program advocate, speaking to young potential applicants. 

He has also established deep community connections through the Army Reserve which he joined in 2020, including helping with the 2022 flood response.

Mr Phillips is part of the Deals Advisory and Infrastructure Division of KPMG, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, and has worked in the project and program delivery team.

“I’ve been exposed to wide experience which as a graduate is very beneficial,” he said.

“I consult on major projects and infrastructure developments, providing everything from cost risk analysis, to scheduling and management frameworks. 

“A real testament to the (Entrepreneurial Transformation) degree is the ability it fosters to interact with various subject matter experts.”

Mr Phillips also works alongside his brother as Chief Operating Officer of Tetra Studios, a virtual reality gaming studio making waves internationally for its cutting-edge technology which links multiple headsets simultaneously.

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