Year 12 student and College Captain, Gemma Kannan, has been recognised for the deep faith that drives her many social justice activities and the incredible generosity of spirit she brings to her school and Church communities. 

At a ceremony at St Mary’s Cathedral, and the first in-person event since 2019, Gemma was awarded a 2022 Archbishop’s Award for Student Excellence. The award acknowledges senior students in the Archdiocese of Sydney who demonstrate outstanding commitment to their faith, academic life and community. 

The Most Reverend Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said all the award recipients had changed the lives of people around them. 

“I am delighted to hear of the ways each of you applied your gifts for the betterment of local communities and the building up of God’s Church,” he said.

“You are now on the cusp of a new chapter in your lives. The tiny blocks that have been laid over the last twelve years and that have developed into your masterpieces of service will now be applied in new places. I pray that you will bring the face and hands of Christ to the different communities you will soon be part of, be it work, tertiary study, travel, friendships, volunteering, whatever. As Jesus’ disciples, you will be torches for the light of God’s love and goodness for others to see.”

Incoming College Captain, Anastasia Bebonis, read Gemma’s citation (below) at the ceremony. 

Congratulations, Gemma, and thank you for your dedication to Serviam in our College community. 

Gemma Kannan has been involved in almost every social justice initiative at the College since Year 7. She has volunteered a great deal of time to establish many new initiatives in 2022 to bring about social justice and leadership within our community, such as the Annual Clothing Clearance, Fairy Bread Day and the Urshies Op Shop. Gemma demonstrated her leadership as College Captain through her organisation of “Girls Night In” to support the many strong women suffering from breast cancer. She has participated in almost every liturgical celebration at school, as well as being an Angelus reader throughout her junior years. She assists each committee with their initiatives – such as Peer Mediation, Harmony Week and School Spectacular – and is happy to help and support them just as God calls us to do. 

On a personal level, Gemma tries every day to treat everyone kindly with our Ursuline values truly resonating in her actions. Until 2019, Gemma altar served, operated the projector at Mass at St Declanʼs Parish Penshurst and assisted with the Sacramental programs. Gemma has trained to become an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and ministers both at St Ursulaʼs College Kingsgrove and at St Declanʼs Parish Penshurst. Gemma regularly volunteers for the St Vincent de Paul Society and has helped with the yearly Christmas hampers at Cronulla parish since she became a member of Mini Vinnies in 2013. Gemma volunteers every second Sunday at the St Vincent de Paul Society branch stores, assisting with management of the store, cleaning shelves and providing companionship to clients.