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Ivanna Cheng – Deakin’s 2021 Supreme Court Prize winner

Since commencing her law degree, Ivanna Cheng has had her eye on the prestigious Supreme Court Prize. As Deakin Law School’s (DLS) top-performing graduate, she’s now accomplished her goal.

High-achieving law graduate Ivanna Cheng is Deakin University’s winner of the 2021 Supreme Court Prize.

Awarded to the top law graduates from Victorian law schools, the esteemed Supreme Court Prize is recognised as a hallmark of outstanding excellence and intellectual ability.

Ivanna completed her Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree alongside the responsibilities of a busy career and a young family.

It was in the first year of her studies, when she took out the Harwood Andrews Prize for Best Student in Commercial Law, that she learnt of the Supreme Court Prize.

‘It was so inspiring to hear from another mature age student who was able to accomplish so much in her studies while juggling home life and work life – it was that awards ceremony that drove me to strive for academic excellence throughout my degree.’

With undergraduate degrees in music and commerce, post-grad qualifications in migration law, and a successful career as a migration agent, Ivanna acknowledges she’s always been a high achiever.

‘Although I’d moved my focus more towards a family/work balance and it was challenging to again commit to study while working full-time with two children, undertaking a law degree helped me realise what I was capable of academically.’

While she took time off from her studies for the births of two children (now aged two and five) and set an inflexible rule of not letting study interfere with family time, Ivanna says she couldn’t have achieved any of it without the unwavering support of her husband.

‘He looked after the children and our household so I could work, study, and advance my career.  None of this would have been possible without him and I am truly grateful and humbled for the support and sacrifice he made for me.’

As the principal migration agent with National Visas, Ivanna enjoys the challenge of navigating migration legislation and her area of expertise lies in visa applications and cancellations, tribunal appeals and complex matters such as health and character waivers.

Over her 10-year career, she’s represented a broad range of clients including couples, ASX-listed companies and not-for-profit entities.

‘I’m now looking forward to using my law degree to advance my career beyond visa and tribunal applications and towards appeals to the Federal Court and the High Court Australia which only lawyers can do,’ she says.

Ivanna’s advice to other Deakin law students is to make the most of the learning journey.

‘Read all the prescribed readings – even though lectures are extremely valuable, don’t only rely on these.  Make your own notes, as this helps you to assimilate and retain the content far better than relying on someone else’s notes.  Writing your own notes is the best revision you can do for an open-book exam.’

She also recommends seeking feedback about any results that are less than hoped for along the way.

‘Be confident in your work.  Academics are not afraid to discuss assessment results and re-issue marks accordingly.  If there was no error and the mark was deserved, then take the feedback on-board to inform your future study and, indeed, your future work life.  Don’t wallow in a negative result – it can only help you improve.’


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