Forever a Somerville Girl

There is no better expression of the Somerville House sense of community than that seen through our Old Girls’ Association (OGA) and alumnae networks. Somerville House past students are lifetime alumnae of the school. When a student walks out the gates for the final time, she is able to rely on solid friendships, utilise extraordinary networks and draw on the values and life skills from her days as a 'girl in green'.

Be inspired by the stories of our graduates.

A world of opportunities starts at Somerville House. Each year, the Principal's Award for Excellence acknowledges alumnae who has excelled to the highest levels of their chosen fields. Read about their achievements.

Victoria Lambourn

Ms Lambourn attended Somerville House from 1994 to 1998 and upon graduation, she undertook tertiary studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (UK), where Ms Lambourn completed a Bachelor of Music Performance with Honours, a postgraduate diploma in opera, and a Master of Music Performance.

Ms Lambourn began studying piano at the age of 3 and a year later began cello lessons.  Whilst a high school student, she studied singing, piano, cello, and composition at the Queensland Conservatorium Music School. Ms Lambourn performed her first operatic role at the age of 15 when she performed Dido in the Somerville House production of Dido and Aeneas.

Ms Lambourn has performed in Australia, Germany, England, Italy, France, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia and has given several concert tours of China, including a concert in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, which was broadcast on national television.On her return to Australia, Ms Lambourn has performed regularly with Opera Australia and the state opera companies. On the concert platform, she has performed with all of the Australian symphony orchestras, including concerts conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy and Sir Andrew Davis. 

Earlier this year Ms Lambourn performed Ravel’s Shéhérazade at the Sydney Opera House.  She has won numerous competitions, scholarships and awards.

Ms Victoria Lamburn was honoured with the 2018 Principal’s Award for her contribution to music.

Rhana Devenport

Ms Rhana Devenport attended Somerville House from 1973 to 1977 and upon her graduation, studied art and education to become an art teacher.  

After an illustrious teaching career, Ms Devenport joined the Queensland Art Gallery in 1989, where she focussed on education and performance. This was an exciting time for the Gallery, as she produced the performances for the first Asia Pacific Triennial (APT) in 1993. Soon after, Ms Devenport was appointed Senior Project Officer for the APT and remained so until she left the Gallery in 2003. Throughout her time, Ms Devenport made significant contributions to the development of the APT, including the Kid’s APT, offering children a rich participatory art experience across Australia, Asia and the Pacific. 

Her ability to network and make powerful connections with artists to bring exhibitions to fruition saw her reputation grow both nationally and internationally.

Following her role as Manager of Public Programs at the Biennale of Sydney in 2006, she was appointed Director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand. Now a leading public gallery in New Plymouth, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has been a key exponent of contemporary art in New Zealand for four decades. Ms Devenport introduced an exciting and stimulating exhibition program, which focussed on contemporary New Zealand artists utilising her Asia Pacific network established in her APT role.

Under her leadership, the Govett-Brewster Gallery received the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Governors’ Award in 2009, which acknowledges an individual or an institution that has significantly contributed to The Arts in New Zealand.
For the last four years, Ms Devenport has been the Director of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, the largest and most respected Art Museum in New Zealand. 

In October 2018, Ms Devenport became the first female Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia in the Adelaide-based museum.

With more than 25 years’ experience in collection development and exhibitions across national and international platforms, Ms Rhana Devenport was honoured with the 2017 Principal’s Award for Excellence for her contribution to the arts. 

Dr Alice Chang

Dr Alice Chang attended Somerville House from 1994 to 1998 and upon her graduation, Dr Chang studied Medicine at the James Cook University in Townsville and completed a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. Dr Chang specialises in eye health.

During her medical training, Dr Chang also completed development work in East Timor, Indonesia, India and Africa.  In her role as a Youth Ambassador for the Fred Hollows Foundation, she has helped establish blindness prevention programs in China.

Her passion for youth health started at a young age, and in 2004, 2006 and 2008 Dr Chang was awarded Young Queenslander of the Year.  She also started her own charity in 2008, Young Visionaries, a non-profit organisation that empowers communities worldwide to improve eye health and eliminate preventable blindness.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry, a coordinator of a Far North Queensland rural eye health program, and an Associate Lecturer of University of Queensland and James Cook University. 

In 2008, Dr Chang was the recipient on both the John Monash Scholarship and the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.  Dr Chang completed her Masters Degree in Public Health at Cambridge University in 2009, specialising in rural public health issues, particularly on chronic diseases in rural Australia.

Dr Chang is currently a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist in Cairns, and is passionate about health and wellbeing of Indigenous children and young people in regional and rural communities.  She has a sub-specialty in infant mental health and is establishing the first infant mental health service in Far North Queensland.

Dr Alice Chang was honoured with the 2013 Principal’s Award for Excellence for her contribution to the field of medicine. 

Dr Abigail Allwood

Dr Abigail Allwood attended Somerville House from 1983 to 1990 and upon her graduation, she completed a B. App. Sc (Geoscience) with Distinction, at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia in 2001, a B. App. Sc. (Honours First Class) (Geoscience), Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia in 2002 and a Ph.D. Earth Science at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia in 2006.

Dr Allwood’s work as an astrobiologist began by her exploration of the most remote wilderness on earth in search of microscopic fingerprints of life by using a tool called the PIXL, which she invented as a postdoc: It fires a hair’s-width x-ray beam at a rock.  This energy stirs up the atoms on the surface which then shoots back their own distinct x-rays.  Combined, these x-rays create finely detailed maps of rocks, potentially revealing the past presence of microbes.

In 2013, Dr Allwood was awarded NASA’s Lew Allen Award for significant individual accomplishment and leadership in scientific research and technological innovation for her part in developing a micro-XRF instrument capable of analysing rocks and soil encountered by the rover.  

In 2015, Dr Allwood was name QUT Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, after winning the university’s Science and Engineering Faculty award.

Dr Allwood currently has an incredible career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  She is the first woman, and the first Australian, to lead a team on a NASA Mars mission in her role as Principal Investigator of PIXL on the Mars 2020 Rover mission, one of seven sophisticated scientific instruments that will be loaded onto the rover.  Operated remotely by her team back on Earth, it will analyse the chemistry of Martian rocks in finer detail that ever done before.

Dr Abigail Allwood was honoured with the 2015 Principal’s Award for Excellence for her outstanding contribution as a world-leading geologist, astrobiologist and research scientist.

Jess Black

Jess Black (Nee Ratcliffe), an award winning children’s author, attended Somerville House from 1986 to 1989 and upon her graduation, initially went on to study a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film with Honours in Theatre Director.

Always inspired by working with children, Jess began her career in children’s theatre and then moved into children’s television. Having acted and directed in theatre, Jess also worked in television as an assistant to successful Drama Producer, John Edwards. This led to an internship as a trainee script editor on a drama series called Head Start, and writing for the television series of the popular book series, Sleepover Club.

Not beginning her writing career until later in life, her work within the children’s theatre and television industry made writing and publishing children’s books the natural next step. With an extensive catalogue of books, it is through building working relationships with many children’s publishers that Jess has found herself collaborating with famous Australian personalities and charities such as the RSPCA and Guide Dogs Australia, and bringing to life fictional stories for celebrities such as Bindi Irwin and Australian Cricket star, David Warner.

In between writing, Jess currently works as a senior tutor for Sydney based company The Writers’ Studio, tutoring the online Ten Month Novel and Script Course which she thoroughly enjoys. Jess was honoured with the 2019 Principal’s Award for Excellence.

Melissa Downes

Melissa Downes is a popular media identity who has graced Queensland's television screens for the past 25 years, presenting Nine News Queensland with Andrew Lofthouse for more than 11 years.

During her time as weeknight presenter, the well-respected journalist has covered many natural disasters including fires, floods, drought and cyclones, like Cyclone Debbie and its aftermath in 2017 as well as the Brisbane floods in 2011, hosting hours of rolling coverage. Melissa also covered the Royal Wedding in London in 2011.

As well as her work in television, Melissa has a strong commitment to charity. She regularly hosts fundraising events and in 2016 trekked 250km across the Simpson Desert to raise funds for Youngcare.

Born and raised in Brisbane, Melissa graduated from Somerville House in 1988 and competed an Arts Journalism degree at the University of Queensland soon after.

Melissa is married to D-J Wendt, owner of music group The Ten Tenors. The couple has two daughters.

Melissa was honoured with the 2020 Principal’s Award for Excellence.

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