2012 London Paralympic’s gold medallist and International Relations and Law graduand, Annabelle Williams has praised Bond University for its ongoing support at a celebratory event held in her honour.
Bond University hosted a reception on Friday, 8 February, in recognition of Ms Williams' outstanding achievements, ahead of the Graduation Ceremony held on campus on Saturday (9 February).
Ms Williams, a multiple world record holder, who was on the Vice-Chancellor’s list in 2007 and 2013, says she has successfully balanced her sporting career and her studies over the past five and half years and attributes much of her success to the encouragement she received from the University.
"Without the assistance of Bond, and many of the professors, I would not have been able to balance my studies and my sporting career," she said.
“It is so humbling to be celebrated for my academic and sporting achievements and I feel so honoured to have such amazing support from Bond University."
Ms Williams swam butterfly and won a gold medal in the Women's 4x100M Medley Relay in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
She has set five world records and won a bronze medal in the 100M Butterfly in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
She was a medallist in two Commonwealth Games for 50M freestyle – winning a silver medal in Delhi in 2010 and a Bronze Medal in Melbourne in 2006. She also won a silver medal in the 100M Butterfly at the World Short Course Championships in Rio de Janeiro in 2009.
She served as the captain of the Australian Paralympic Swim Team from 2008 to 2010, and currently serves on the Executive Board of the Australian Swimmers Association, the representative body for elite level swimmers in Australia.
Ms Williams, who was born with a congenital lower left limb deficiency (otherwise referred to as an arm amputee), has never allowed this challenge to stand in the way of her achievements and those away from the pool have been equally inspiring.
She was awarded a Sports Scholarship to study at Bond University, where she completed a double degree in Law and International Relations, with a triple major in French, International Diplomacy and Global Governance.
"I lived in Jakarta for a few years, which sparked my interest in other countries and cultures. I studied French though school and lived in Lyon, France when I was in year 10 and fell in love with the language and the culture," she said.
"My uncle is a judge in Sydney and I always enjoyed talking to him about the law.
"The degree options at Bond allowed me to combine all my areas of interest and essentially mould my degree to suit my career aspirations."
She says the flexible nature of Bond also allowed her to take the time required to swim competitively and train at an elite level.
"For five years I balanced swimming and uni, attempting to do them both on a full time basis,” she said.
"When I was named on the London 2012 team, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in a second Paralympic Games and decided to devote 2012 primarily to my sport.
"Focussing all my energy on swimming, allowed me to have some down time between sessions and as a result, I was able to academically recoup and hit the ground running after the games."
Ms Williams spent the latter part of 2012 interning at an organisation called Perennial Strategy Group in Washington DC, where she gained experience working with civil rights organisations and non-profit groups in the areas of sport and government affairs.
"I was lucky enough to be in Washington during the Presidential Elections. It was certainly a fitting place to learn about international relations," she said.
In 2009 Ms Williams had the opportunity to complete a six month internship in Paris.
"I worked for the Australian Trade Commission – Austrade - where I assisted companies to grow their business in France, attract productive French investment into Australia, and promote Australia's education sector in France,” she said.
"Both internships were invaluable experiences and I am excited and feel ready to enter the corporate world.
"Bond has helped me to prepare for the next phase of my life and has helped open up opportunities that many can only dream about, and while I am certainly not ruling out a spot at the Rio Games, my focus in the year ahead will be on my career."
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean, Professor Raoul Mortley concurred that internships were invaluable experience and that Annie had maximised the opportunities available to her at Bond.
“The internships provide an opportunity for students to apply their learning in a practical setting and to build a network of industry contacts. Annie is to be commended for participating in internships while juggling her busy sporting commitments and studies,” he said.
Faculty of Law Dean, Professor Geraldine Mackenzie also congratulated Annie on her achievements.
“Annie is a remarkable athlete, student and Bondy. We are very proud of her sporting achievements and the contribution she has made as a student. It is only fitting to celebrate these as she embarks on the next chapter of her life,” said Professor Mackenzie.
Ms Williams will commence at Allens, a commercial law firm in Sydney as a graduate lawyer later this month.