Peninah (Penny) Kansiime is a Lecturer of Social Work and has been with Excelsia College for nearly one and a half years. She has a heart for social issues including forced migration, child protection, family and domestic violence, mental health, and HIV/AIDS, having practised in the field for 12 years. Penny has an international and local practice background and has worked both in university and college settings across Sydney, as well as Uganda. She brings her cross-cultural experience to the College. Penny’s approach to teaching is by helping students to become critically reflective practitioners.


In her work as a social worker and lecturer, Penny has learned from God to think outside of the box and consider multiple perspectives. ‘Outofthebox thinking involves me getting out of the comfort zone regarding what I know and listening to different opinions and respecting them,even if they are contrary to mine,’ Penny says.


God has also taught Penny the value of kindness and empathy. Our students come from across the world, and I have learned with time that we have to listen, understand and treat them as individuals because each of their circumstance is unique,’ she explains. ‘God has challenged me to judge less and be more empathetic.’


One of Penny’s favourite books in the Bible is Psalm 91. Verses 12 say,Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’


One of the things that has surprised Penny the most is the generosity of Excelsia in looking after her emotional wellbeing. Penny would describe the College as a genuinely caring environment’ and it is this care that she brings to her teaching and students as she educates the next generation of social workers. With a down to earth personality and beautiful smile, Penny is a fitting Excellent Personality and Excelsia is lucky to have her.


If you’re interested in helping to care for people and want to learn from compassionate staff like Penny, why not explore our Master of Social Work (Qualifying) course?


On Tuesday 31 May, Excelsia College attended the annual Sydney Prayer Breakfast at the Grand Ballroom in the International Convention Centre. It was an unforgettable morning of spirituality and discussion as roughly 1,700 Christians across Sydney (and more online) came together to stop and pray for the city of Sydney and share stories of faith. These people came from a variety of industries such as Churches, financial and business institutions, and higher education providers. Attendees also enjoyed breakfast and worshipping with Emu Music, who filled the ballroom with beautiful Christian music.


Excelsia College is proud to be a major sponsor of Sydney Prayer Breakfast, which enabled us to focus on brand awareness and highlight our Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and Bachelor of Music (Worship) courses. The College had a stall that was well visited, and staff from the marketing team distributed College merchandise to prospective students at the breakfast. Our promotional advertising featuring a 30 per cent discount for Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and Bachelor of Music (Worship) courses had prime position on the large screen in the Grand Ballroom, as well as inside the official Prayer Breakfast booklet.


Peter Gibbs, a Gamillaroi man from the community of Weilmoringle in far West New South Wales was this year’s keynote speaker. Gibbs was responsible for helping to develop The Indigenous Police Recruitment Our Way Delivery Program (IPROWD), a training model to develop First Nations Australians for a career with the NSW Police Force. IPROWD is now one of the most highprofile programs in New South Wales (City Bible Forum, 2021). Peter shared his journey of faith and how coming to Christ led him from violence to faith and fromdespair to hope. Gibbs also shared a prayer for First Nations Australians and reflected on how far Australia has come for National Reconciliation Week; an important time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements (Reconciliation Australia, 2022).


The chosen Bible verse for the event was Ephesians 6:18 which says, ‘pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.’ This verse is so fitting as we remember to pray for the city of Sydney and our increasingly secular world.


Thank you to Neville Cox, an Excelsia College Board Member and Chairman of The Sydney Prayer Breakfast for his commitment to this crucial initiative. Excelsia looks forward to continuing its partnership as an ongoing sponsor for Sydney Prayer Breakfast!





City Bible Forum. (2021). Sydney Prayer Breakfast 2021 – Interview with Peter


Reconciliation Australia. (2022). National Reconciliation Week.,to%20achieving%20reconciliation%20in%20Australia.

For the past six months, Rabina Giri has been working as a Student Advisor at Excelsia College, but her association with the College began back in 2019 as a Master of Counselling student. Back home in Nepal, Rabina had studied a Bachelor of Social Work, and when she arrived in Australia she initially had a difficult time adjusting to study in a new country. ‘When I was a student, I wanted to change courses to a Master of Social Work because I was not doing well in my studies, however I did not give up and that one decision led to me having an amazing student experience.’


As a student, Rabina’s favourite things about the College included interacting with a diverse group of students across varied aged groups and the support provided by the academic staff. ‘I got to learn from mature students, as well as share my ideas as a young student. The academic staff were also very supportive of me throughout my learning process even when I had setbacks in the initial stage of starting my course.’


Within the Master of Counselling course, students develop self-awareness and reflection as they consider how to enhance the quality of their own professional practice, as well as their ongoing personal maturity. ‘Counselling sessions have been an immense support through this journey. As an international student, my mental health was taken care of, and I always had a safe place to go. The course not only prepares you to be a counsellor but also helps you gain insight into yourself and others. I have enjoyed every aspect of this course,’ says Rabina.


Rabina’s perseverance paid off and at the end of 2021 she completed her studies. Within a month upon finishing, Rabina had gone from student to member of the Student Acquisition team! ‘It all happened so quickly, and I was honoured to have this opportunity to join Excelsia as a staff member. I was warmly welcomed by all the staff members and my team has been extremely supportive through my learning. There are still many things I need to learn; however, everyone has been helping me through this process.’


‘Excelsia has exceeded my expectations as both a student and staff member. I love being able to work within the college in this Student Advisor position. It was a surprise for me, and I took it because God wanted me to be here. I have learned to trust and have faith in God as I am loved and looked after.’


A helpful piece of advice Rabina has taken from Excelsia College is ‘to always remember that my voice matters and to speak up. I was also encouraged to continue my studies by my counsellor, I learned to never give up.’ It is this fighting attitude that makes Rabina an Excellent Personality. We’re so pleased that Rabina can continue at Excelsia College in a new role and can’t wait to see her blossom further.


Just like Rabina has, experience the excellence at Excelsia College. Explore a Master of Counselling or job opportunities at the College.

Excelsia College and Sydney Film School are proud to have a talented calibre of staff helping to train film professionals in producing, directing, writing, cinematography, sound, editing, design, and business through its Bachelor of Screen Production. If you happened to watch The Beatles: Get Back documentary series on Disney Plus, you may have recognised a familiar face, Les Parrott. The Sydney Film School lecturer once worked as a camera operator in London in 1969! It was this three-week experience which Parrott marked as ‘just another gig’ when he was summoned to Twickenham Studios and Apple Corps that would end up being the Beatles’ last collaboration together (Sydney Film School, 2021), before disbanding in 1970 (Westbrook, 2021).

Upon reflection of this experience filming the ‘greatest band of all time’, Les explains, ‘Fifty-two years later there is still this unbelievable interest. At the time I didn’t realise I was involving myself in history; it was a gig, it was a job … It’s special and it can’t be repeated so it’s something that I’ll take with me’ (60 Minutes, 2021).

Peter Jackson, world-famous Lord of the Rings director, released the documentary on 25 November 2021, after canvassing over 60 hours of completely unseen footage of the Beatles that had been put in a vault for half a century (Sydney Film School, 2021). The final product is a documentary series spread across three episodes, each two to three hours running time. Parrott filmed the fab four – consisting of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison – as they recorded their Grammy-winning album Let It Be (Sydney Film School, 2021).

It is this wealth of experience, knowledge, and encouragement that Parrott imparts to the next generation of students at Sydney Film School as he lectures in the camera and cinematography departments. Apart from his rare experience filming the Beatles, Parrott has worked in film and television productions including Julius Caesar starring John Gielgud and Charlton Heston, You Can’t Win ’Em All starring Tony Curtis and Charles Bronson, Madame Sin starring Bette Davis and Robert Wagner, and sci-fi puppet classic Thunderbirds (Sydney Film School, 2021).

Channel 9 program 60 Minutes Australia visited Sydney Film School to find out about Les’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the Beatles. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the docuseries yet, check out the links below:

Les Parrott featured at 1min10sec –

“SUNDAY on #60Mins | Going Back” –

Did you know Sydney Film School is ranked as one of Variety Magazine’s (Saval et al., 2020) leading international film schools? If you are interested in learning from industry veterans such as Les, why not explore Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Screen Production?

About Excelsia College:

Excelsia College, located in Sydney, Australia, has a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. We are a community made up of passionate educators who want to walk alongside students on their individual, unique journey.


Saval, M., Clement, N., Gottlieb, A., Gilchrist, T., & Gaita, P. (2020). Entertainment education impact report: The top film schools and educators from around the globe. Variety Magazine.

Sydney Film School (2021, November 19). Sydney Film School’s Les Parrott, Beatles cameraman, on 60 Minutes [Press Release].

Westbrook, C. (2021). When did the Beatles break up and who left first? Metro News.

60 Minutes (2021). Aussie cameraman reveals what The Beatles were like in never-before-seen footage. 9 Now.

60 Minutes Australia. (2021, November 18). SNEAK PEEK: Going Back, 60 Minutes Australia [Video file]. Youtube.

Did you know there’s a global day set aside to thank administrative staff? Just as teachers and academics are recognised for their skill sets, so too are our administrative professionals who play an essential role in helping our College to operate effectively. This Friday 6 May is National Administrative Professionals Day!

In light of this day, Excelsia College wants to thank all of our administrative staff who work behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the College. We might not always see them around, but we wouldn’t be the same without their help.

The International Association of Administrative Professionals defines administrative professionals as ‘an extension of the executive team as tasks become more automated and admins are more efficient than ever. Admins are business partners to the executive, executives, departments, and companies they support’ (International Association of Administrative Professionals, n.d.).

Our administrative staff do so much in helping students and our academic community within our five different schools (education, counselling, social work, business and creative and performing arts). From creating classes on Excelsia’s online student portal ExO, to answering student queries, to helping lecturers and assisting with moderation, our administrative staff help to create a better learning experience for all our students, and to align the College to the Higher Education Standards Framework (HESF). This team includes Kathryn Honor, Nermine Morcos, Kim Rodgers, Zoe Sadler, Joanna Swadling, Kathy Brunker, Jo Jun, Jennifer Khoo and Gail Ecob.

A few of these lovely ladies have shared what they enjoy most about their roles:

Gail Ecob – ‘I love being part of a team that not only teaches the values and qualities of social work, but also models them as well. To work with a team that supports and encourages you each day.’

Kathy Brunker – ‘The two things I enjoy most about my role are the lovely staff that I work with and the variety in the work that I perform.’    

Kim Rodgers – ‘I love to solve problems and help our team shine!’

Nermine Morcos – ‘What I enjoy most about my job is the challenge to hold everything together and keep things running smoothly in a timely manner.’                                         

Excelsia College is so glad that you are here and thank you for all that you do in helping the College to run smoothly!


International Association of Administrative Professionals. (n.d.). About the profession.

Mike Peereboom is Excelsia College’s Chaplain and involved with all pastoral care, ministry, and worship activities at the College. For nearly three and a half years, Mike has provided a listening ear, care, guidance, support, and advocacy for students. Mike is not only genuinely concerned with the spiritual wellbeing of Excelsia students, but he also cares about their physical and emotional wellbeing. With his genuine and down-to-earth nature, it’s easy to see why Mike has a natural affinity with students and staff alike. It is these qualities that make Mike an Excellent Personality.


When he’s not engaging with students on campus, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and two children and adventuring outdoors. He has spent many hours climbing, bouldering, bushwalking, canyoning, mountain-biking, road cycling, kayaking, swimming, and chasing waterfalls.


Colossians 3:23 says to ‘work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.’ Mike aims to hold these values through his role running The Gathering. This group is a chance for all students to come together, catch up and encourage one another, and learn about God and His people through informal discussion. During the pandemic, The Gathering, praise and worship meetings, prayer meetings, small group Bible studies, Social Tuesday and discipleship groups – groups designed for students to meet together and study God’s word, growing in spiritual maturity – all shifted online. Now, thankfully, with students back on campus, these programs are resuming in person once again.


Throughout his various ministry roles, God has taught Mike that he is a finite being and an instrument used to further His kingdom. ‘I do not make the earth turn or the stars shine, God does. God does not need me for His work in the world, but He does want me – to partner with Him in His work in the world. I’ve learned that outcomes do not matter more than processes – especially in a ministry context. Walking with Jesus today and living like Jesus today is up to me; outcomes and what happens tomorrow is up to Him.’


A helpful piece of advice Mike has learned is, ‘If I don’t prioritise my time and my tasks, then someone else will. In other words, if I don’t put in the hard work of deciding how I will spend my time and energy, someone else will inevitably make these decisions for me. I have learned that abdicating the hard work of decision-making (managing my own time and my own tasks) can impact my feelings of agency, autonomy and my ability to foster a healthy self-differentiation.’


Mike describes the Excelsia community as a melting pot of different Christian denominations. ‘As an evangelical Christian I have been surprised by the beauty of different Christian traditions represented here at Excelsia, be they Orthodox, Catholic, or any of the many Protestant denominations. Each individual believer contributes something special to the Body of Christ – that is, the ecumenical community of faith.’


Do you feel inspired by Mike’s story and want to join Excelsia College or find out more about the student support services available, including pastoral support and chaplaincy? Feel free to visit our website

Since starting at Excelsia College in 2014, Cameron Lyon has worn a variety of hats, having worked as Student Recruitment Coordinator, Communications Coordinator and Student Support Manager for the College.


Cameron’s current role is as Screen Production Course Manager for the Bachelor of Screen Production, in partnership with Sydney Film School. He is passionate about advocating for the power of the screen, finding the stories that should capture our attention and working creatively to improve people’s skills and experiences. Cameron has applied excellence to all his roles, and it is for this reason that he is a worthy Excellent Personality.


Cameron works closely with Bachelor of Screen Production students to understand their worldview and oversee creative pieces from conception right through to the finished product. ‘Students surprise me frequently with their gifts, endurance, and unique way of thinking. It’s a delight to meet with students and understand their worldview. Particularly in my context of screen storytelling, it’s fascinating seeing what creativity they produce,’ Cameron explains.


Students in Bachelor of Screen Production also gain Cameron’s insight into the industry. Having worked in feature films as a screen actor, he uses this experience to instil a passion for storytelling in the next generation. Already Cameron has been able to develop, launch, and manage the Excelsia and Sydney Film School Award which offers students a full scholarship to the degree.


Throughout his nearly eight years at Excelsia, God has taught Cameron to keep Him as his central focus, even amongst the busyness of life. ‘Anytime I shift from that thinking, I miss the beauty in the day to day, His grace towards me and, paradoxically, I lose focus in my work.’ Likewise, Cameron enjoys approaching his role with innovation, creativity and difference, something Excelsia College’s CEO Peter McKeon often speaks about with his staff. ‘Peter asks, “How can I do things differently?” and I find this way of thinking crucial to work life. At times, Christians can be accused of being impartial to outcomes with eternity in mind. God calls us to a balanced way of thinking with the now and not yet. The now matters to God too. I think having this innovative and creative way of thinking moves us into a space of fascinating potential. Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths*,”’ explains Cameron.


When he’s not working, Cameron enjoys watching Messi play football, getting amongst his church community, woodworking, and binging a quality television series. ‘I would describe Excelsia as a place of upward voyage.’ These words seem so fitting considering all the wonderful ways Cameron has already blessed the Excelsia community and will continue to do so.


If you feel inspired by Cameron’s story and want to:

• explore Excelsia College’s courses, including the Bachelor of Screen Production, visit our website

• work at Excelsia College, visit our Careers page



*Goodreads. (n.d.). Walt Disney Company Quotable Quote. Goodreads.

At Excelsia College we are proud to have females in leadership roles. Did you know 57 per cent of our workforce are female and 50 per cent are involved in senior leadership? On 8 March, Excelsia College celebrated the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of females for International Women’s Day. This year’s theme was #BreakTheBias. As part of the day, we chatted to Rachel Thompson, People and Culture Manager. We found out about her work, female role models, why she considers the day important and her advice to other women wanting to progress within their careers.


Q.    This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias. How does your work help to facilitate this?

A.     I seek to observe gender diversity of our staff and facilitate opportunity for women through all aspects of the employee lifecycle and various employee personal life stages. This includes empowering our women on staff and women in leadership through organisational development initiatives to stretch themselves.


Q.    Why do you think International Women’s Day is so important and worthy of being celebrated?

A.     Womanhood is so diverse in its expression across different peoples and groups, however equality of access to opportunity is an ideal that should be encouraged, protected, and facilitated across all contexts. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to evaluate and celebrate access to opportunity.

Q.    What advice would you give to women trying to progress in their careers?

A.     Seek to build strategic relationships and prioritise lifelong learning.

Q.    What’s a lesson that’s helped you to break the glass ceiling?

A.     Demonstrate commitment to excellence in what you have been assigned and you will attract advocates, champions, and coaches who will want to empower you and see you succeed.

Q.    Do you have a female role model you look up to? If so, what qualities do they possess that you admire?

A.     Some of my favourite authors were women who produced works ahead of their time such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. These women were largely self-taught in their vocation, yet through intelligence, passion, and persistence they wrote and refined classic pieces of literature with insight that transcended their own context.


Kathryn Honor has been working at Excelsia College for just over two years. With her warm personality and love for woodcarving and creating things from the heart (she literally designed, carved, and finished a heart-shaped pouring bowl!) there’s no doubt she is worthy of being our latest Excellent Personality. When Kathryn isn’t working as the Administrative Assistant to the Chief Academic Officer, she is busy tackling her latest creative challenge, whether that be with a paintbrush, needle and thread, carving knife/gouge or power tool!

Kathryn is also very community-centric. She helps to keep her church safe as a safe ministry representative, and she is involved in a range of community groups including as vice president of Epping Creative Centre Incorporated (a centre that offers a meeting place for over 40 different community groups), as a committee member at the Sydney Woodcarver Group Incorporated and in a number of volunteer positions at Girl Guides – from cook to cleaner, to assisting with craft and outdoor activities. On top of that, she is mum to young adult twin daughters and likes encouraging them to flex their creative muscles through textiles, painting, other craft activities and a love for activities in the great outdoors.

Something God has taught Kathryn throughout her time at Excelsia is the continuing theme of being a part of God’s family. ‘We are all a Christian diverse family even though we come from all different lands and worship via different service providers. God’s love and commitment to us is what keeps us going. We can all share in worship, prayer, and devotion to our God together,’ Kathryn explains. ‘The Excelsia community is vibrant, dramatic, multicultural and a God-loving family.’

As for what has surprised Kathryn about Excelsia, she explains, ‘Having been in single denominational or specific specialised settings in my last couple of jobs, I have really enjoyed learning and being exposed to other religions and cultures, whether sharing food, stories or opinions! This has broadened my world view.’

At Excelsia, team members are encouraged to reflect on ways they can grow and improve within their role, culminating in their Stretch Goals. In reflecting on her 2021 goals, Kathryn explains, ‘There was the statement, ‘I haven’t learned that YET?’ This is my new mantra – I haven’t done/learned/achieved that YET, instead of I can’t do that or don’t know how to do that! It opens your mind to a whole lot of exciting possibilities and challenges.’

Over the Christmas break, Kathryn attended a residential woodcarving course by master carver Hape Kiddle. Kathryn was guided through the process of carving an organic seed-inspired form from conceptual design through to a finished piece. ‘I started with a heart-shaped seed and through the process, the piece “Pouring the Love” evolved. This piece is very tactile and fits into your palms. It is designed to pour from the heart; you can share the love from this piece! It is a bowl to be given and to be felt, and it is representative of giving/sharing of the love/heart.’

All of Kathryn’s pieces reflect on the Bible and her ‘Pouring the Love’ bowl definitely fits the sharing of love and her favourite New Testament verse John 13:34–35: ‘A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’

Kathryn explains, ‘I have a creative and practical approach to life, and I am really blessed with my hands. Hence, I love any form of art and craft, DIY project, cooking etc. I believe that as people, we should see ourselves as creative, as our God, who shaped us, is the most creative being! I love to zone out when creating! It’s my happy, yet reflective place,’ says Kathryn.

Excelsia College is blessed to have such a diverse range of staff who are showcasing their God-given gifts. We can’t wait to see what other creations Kathryn comes up with and are so pleased she’s with us at Excelsia College.

If you are interested in joining the team at Excelsia, why not apply with us today?

Master of Music (Performance) graduate Joanna Swadling finished her studies mid-2021 and shortly commenced work at the College as Team Assistant to the executive team. She is a passionate soprano and when she isn’t working at Excelsia, she is busy singing at church, songwriting or taking singing lessons.


Joanna has a deep love of storytelling and emotional communion through music. ‘One of my main passions is using music to connect with people and share a joyful experience with them.


‘One of the things I loved about my time studying at Excelsia is that it took me out of my comfort zone in many ways and enabled me to do things I had doubted I would be able to do in the past. I took a composition unit as an elective, which helped me to believe I could actually write my own music. This was something I had wanted to do in the past, but I never knew how to stick with a song and actually finish it, let alone have the confidence to show it to others! The composition unit forced me to see the songs I wrote to the finish line and actually perform them in front of people, and it gave me really helpful tools for the process.


I think I was also stretched in terms of trying out a variety of vocal styles with my teacher Julia Michaels, including contemporary vocal styles such as musical theatre and belting, while also finding a way to mix this with my classical technique and find my own unique voice. I also learned practical tools for putting together recitals. I think it helped me to learn to take myself a bit less seriously and just enjoy making music and being creative, while at the same time helping me to feel more comfortable in myself as musician and a performer!’


During her time at Excelsia, Joanna had the opportunity to undertake an ethnographic case study of musical interactions in aged care. This emerged from her experiences singing and putting on concerts in aged care facilities and observing the way music provided opportunities for meaningful connections between the residents, herself, and others. Joanna was able to present her research, titled How the music treats us, as part of the 2021 Lumen Conferral which showcases Christian education research. ‘Being part of Excelsia has revealed to me a wider world of Christians who are using their craft and gifts to tangibly and practically live out their faith, which is a very exciting thing,’ she shares.


‘Growing, community, creative, Christ-centered and compassionate’ are the words that spring to mind when Joanna Swadling thinks about Excelsia College.

For Joanna, it has been lovely to continue her journey at Excelsia, now within a working capacity. ‘I have been surprised by the opportunities for creativity and innovation in the workplace, as well as the encouragement and nurturing of my own continued learning.’ One area includes her ongoing research into music in aged care, which she hopes to one day publish. ‘I’d love to continue exploring research in this area but also other areas of music. It’s still really a time of trying things out as a singer and working out what my focus might be,’ she explains.


A helpful piece of advice Joanna has learned while working here is to not be scared to ask for help or further clarification when you don’t understand a task! ‘It’s much better to ask up front than to wait and worry.’

‘God has reminded me and taught me that every single aspect of my life and work, from the small and simple to the involved and significant, is valuable and part of living a life in worship of Him!’


As for long-term goals, Joanna shares, ‘When I was a child, I was deadset on being an opera singer when I grew up! This is still something I love, but I’m a bit more flexible about what my music career may end up being. If I can record and perform my own music that’ll be amazing. I’d love to form a group or band to perform with. I am also passionate about ministry – music ministry but also other forms – so that’s something I’d been keen to explore down the track too.’


If you feel inspired by Joanna’s story and want to:

> work at Excelsia College, visit our Careers page

> explore Excelsia College’s Creative and Performing Arts and Music courses, or embark on the research journey and complete your PhD, why not enquire with us today?