Gadsby named Alumna of the Year

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Comedian Hannah Gadsby has been named Alumna of the Year by the Australian National University (ANU), for her work in promoting gender equity and LGBTIQ issues.

Gadsby graduated from ANU in 2003 with a degree in Art History. This has informed some of her work, including her critically acclaimed stand-up show, Nanette, which has since been picked up by Netflix.

Nanette saw Gadsby shoot to international prominence, twisting the traditional narrative of a stand-up show and shining a light on her personal story.

“She has received international recognition for her insight into trauma and abuse – and has fought to make to make visible those whose situations often go unseen,” ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC said.

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

Gadsby said she is “pretty chuffed” to have received the honour, advising 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,” she said.

Gadsby will return to Canberra in December this year to perform her new stand-up show, Douglas. She was named among other ANU alumni as part of the awards: ACT Magistrate Louise Taylor was recognised for her impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and access to justice for women in the community, while Sir Mike Brady FRS was recognised for his contribution to science, particularly his medical research with diagnostic imaging patients. The young Alumna of the Year was awarded to Alexandra Clare for her work with Re:Coded, creating opportunities in the technology industry for young people in conflict-affected countries in the Middle East.

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