Our Brilliant Catch-Up

Updated: Nov 25, 2021


by Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation


Photo (From Left to Right) : Elizabeth Lang, Madeleine Antoine, Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito and Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation



PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA (WA) – We see the world in brilliant colours, a kaleidoscope of light radiating from individuals that we interact with daily. The Brilliant Foundation Sundowner Catch Up was attended by industry professionals, academic leaders and students from Curtin University, University of Western Australia (UWA), Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and Murdoch University at Hamptons City Beach, Thursday, 18 November 2021, 5pm-7pm.


VIP Guest Speakers include Elizabeth Lang, CEO, Diversity Focus, Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito, Director and Principal of Women’s Breast Imaging (WBI), Cottesloe and Alexander Circosta, TV Presenter, Actor and Master of Ceremonies, a former law graduate from Murdoch University.


Photo (From Left to Right) : Elizabeth Lang, Madeleine Antoine, Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito


From Sudan, Egypt to Perth

Elizabeth Lang shared that at a young age of 4, her family had to flee from Sudan to Egypt due to political unrest, and again seeking asylum and refuge in Perth. Through her father’s teachings, she was taught not to give up her values and her moral conviction to stand up for what is right in the world. Poverty stricken, their family had to start at ground zero.


Through sheer hard work, she established Diversity Focus, a consulting company that has been in operation for the past 4 years. She and her team have successfully trained and workshopped with companies in concepts of diversity and inclusiveness, unconscious bias and being aware of different cultures. Her clients include Legal Aid, Refugee Council of Australia, Government of Western Australia, Department of Communities, Lifeline, Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence, The UN Refuge Agency, local councils and universities in WA and Melbourne. Her work is her calling and as a mother of two young children, she is also currently pursuing her doctorate at Curtin University. She strives for a better, equitable and kinder world.


Photo (From Left to Right) : Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito, Dr Renée Ralph, Elizabeth Lang and Alexander Circosta


Photo (From Left to Right) : Alexander Circosta, Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito, Dr Renée Ralph


From Philippines to Perth, WA

Seventeen years ago, Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito came with only one luggage from the Philippines to Perth. Vanessa had to borrow money from her sister for her one way air ticket WA. She did her medical exams and passed, thinking that she now had the right to practice in Perth. Not realising that WA had a moratorium law that decrees all migrant doctors to work in the country for 10 years before being allowed to practice in Perth. As a Filipino, Vanessa had to learn how to drive to various country towns to provide medical advice and patient care including overcoming cultural issues and acceptance.


She now owns Women’s Breast Imaging (WBI), a heritage building in Cottesloe; with her team who specialises in breast care. Vanessa is focussed on preventive medicine and hopes to help patients overcome breast cancer with her work. The message she gives to us is to keep a positive mindset and to improve oneself 1% every day.


Photo : Alexander Circosta sharing his perspective in life. Brilliant!


From Perth, WA

At six years old, Alexander Circosta was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up? He jotted down – A Lawyer. Hence, he studied law at Murdoch University and realised very quickly that this was not the dream job that he envisioned it to be. He finds his happiness in the Arts and Entertainment and shares with us that it is really important to give “ourselves permission” to achieve what we really want in life. It is easier to subscribe to society’s conditioning and standards, however, more courageous to step up and carve a life of our own.


By nature, he is an introvert and shy person. He had to overcome his reserved ways through singing, acting, keeping healthy and seeking mentors that will guide him to his career in the media, arts and entertainment. Recently, he has acted and sung for two weeks in the Mamma Mia Musical at Regal Theatre, Subiaco, playing the role of Bill with Fifi Mondello, Serasi Entertainment and producer Chris Dobson. He also emceed with Tina Altieri for Telethon 7 Kids, raising over $60 million with the team. A cause he truly believes and value in helping children that are ill.






Multiculturalism under One Roof

After the speeches, an eclectic mix of individuals from diverse multicultural heritage were chatting and mingling at Hamptons overlooking the Indian Ocean. Individuals from Sudan, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Mauritius, Colombia, Singapore, India, Italy, Brunei, France, England that have made Perth their home, watching the calm ocean and enjoying the sunset.


Photo (From Left to Right) : Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito, Alba Gomez, Dr Renée Ralph, Alexander Circosta, Josh Galvin - Our Brilliant Members


Photo : Alba Gomez, Founding Member, The Brilliant Foundation


From Colombia to Perth, WA

It was fabulous to see Alba Gomez an Engineer from Colombia who came to Western Australia without speaking a word of English. Alba took an intensive course in English amongst teenagers in a school and had to sit her exams to re-qualify as an Engineer in Perth. She continued to work as an engineer in a multinational Japanese company for 5 years.


After 14 years as an engineer, Alba decided on a career change. She is now a successful Presence and Personal Brand Coach and commentator on Channel 9. She believes in helping and transforming a person from within to communicate confidently and present their best self.


Photo (Left to Right) : Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder and Elizabeth Richards, Founding Member, The Brilliant Foundation


From Perth, WA

The giving and loving Elizabeth Richards, an amazing mother of three, balancing her life as an oil painting artist. She is instrumental in designing The Brilliant Foundation logo that we have today. Elizabeth Richards graduated with two degrees – one in Fine Arts from UWA and the other in Graphic Design at Curtin University. Her value is to live one’s life fully and not to judge others.


Photo (Left to Right): Madeleine Antoine, Extraordinary Violinist from Perth Symphony Orchestra and INNEKA with Scott Delamott, a talented student from The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) studying Guitar Composition.


Photo (From left to right) : A budding violinist with Madeleine Antoine


From Albany to Perth, WA

We are grateful that Madeleine Antoine, an extraordinary violinist came to support The Brilliant Foundation Sundowner and to chat with the students. Madeleine is an introverted and shy individual, however, on stage, she is electrifying, edgy and her passion for music is alive. She is a strong supporter of the environment, action on climate change, homelessness and the First Nations Peoples in Australia. Madeline is a family member of the Perth Symphony Orchestra and INNEKA.


Through her music, she has raised funds for Maiti Nepal Charity for women and children that have been trafficked, experienced domestic violence and part of the flesh trade and are now trying to make a living and have a fresh start in life. They have raised $8,000 so far for the charity. She was awarded a scholarship at Methodist Ladies College and was trained in Prague Conservatory of Music. She achieved 98% TEE Score the highest in the State for Music Performance and a former WAAPA graduate. She is continuing her Masters in Music Composition with UWA.


In her recent solo feature performance at zero2hero’s Red Cape Ball in November 2021, Madeleine Antoine was invited to perform at this event, which raised $450,000 towards youth mental health.


Photo (From Left to Right) : Elizabeth Lang, CEO, Diversity Focus with Athina Hilman, Rose Pigga and Kyla Matthews.


What is the common thread of these inspiring individuals?

They are grounded in their daily work and are passionate in their cause to do better every day in their chosen field and lives – be it parenthood, single-hood, medicine, music, arts, entertainment, personal branding, diversity and inclusion, business, science, sports, social impact or academia. The main aim is human connectedness for a better, kinder and respectful world.


Photo (From Left to Right) : Matthew Hayden, Tom Sargent, Marion Harel, Rose Pigga,

Dr Renée Ralph and Nikki Coleman


Photo (From Left to Right) : Josh Galvin and Corey Wise


Photo (From Left to Right) : Jack S, RC Su and Jesse R.


Photo (From Left to Right) : Corey Wise and Nikki Coleman


For the university students that attended this sundowner – Thank You so much for coming! All of you you inspire me every day to do better!


Remember that these amazing individuals are no different to you and I.


They are Resilient. Diligent. Hardworking. Focussed. Passionate.


They find meaning in what they do every day.


Ordinary individuals, doing extraordinary things – in their roles, they seek to work on initiatives and projects that have value to make life lighter, more enjoyable and liveable.


True grit to do better, overcoming adversity and challenges through hard work, positive action and self-awareness.


Not the fake news that we see every day in social media, sensational news, reality TV or influencers touting wares.


They have continued their personal development and life-long learning through education.


They have done the hard yards to lead a fulfilling life. You can do the same.


So please start getting organised.

Make a Plan.

Read your academic journal articles. (do not roll your eyeballs at this stage)

Do your research.

Update your Endnote.

Attend your lectures face-to-face and attend all your tutorials.

Find your friends and your tribe.



Feedback from the students about the Brilliant Catchup

It was great to chat to individuals that are from different cultural backgrounds.


We didn’t expect professionals to be presenting at the sundowner. It was really, really good to hear their life-stories. A nice surprise!


Love the fact that we are catching up in a different environment and with other students from different universities.


How lovely to see the ocean and chat with friends - old and new.


Photo : Dr Renée Ralph with The Brilliant Dr Mike Baldwin and his wonderful girls.


Photo (From Left to Right): Dr Catherine Archer, Senior Lecturer, Murdoch University with Elizabeth Richards, Founding Member, The Brilliant Foundation


Feedback from the professionals

I feel as if I belong and found my new tribe – The Brilliant Foundation.


I really feel comfortable and am inspired by my peers.


I am glad to be able to talk about other things that interests me besides, work.


What a great evening. The speakers were all fantastic! Thank you so much for inviting me.


Photo (From Left to Right): Allan Sim, President, Good Deeds and Louisa Cotter, Secretary, ASEAN Business Alliance.


Photo (From Left to Right): Dr Renée Ralph and Susie Staton, Judgment Index


Background - How did The Brilliant Foundation come about?

Through conversations with Alrick Dorett and I, we realised that if we had a mentor or coach in our earlier part of our professional careers, our lives would have turned out differently.


There isn't a go-to-place that we can find someone to talk to (outside our family network to rely on) or to help us make better decisions in our career and personal lives.


It is even harder because of our Asian cultural heritage to seek or ask for help, as we are supposed to be stoic and we have to deal with our challenges in our professional careers on our own - quietly. There is a clear distinction between personal and professional life. Is that truly the case?


We also realised that there is more to life than just your job within your industry. There are so many individuals who are leading different lives from us.


Photo : Alrick Dorett, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation


Alrick is an accountant by trade, I am a teacher at university. How do other professionals and academics live their life? We were curious in this aspect.


In my teachings for the past 5 years at Curtin University, I realised there was a huge gap in terms of concepts, academic theory and real-life scenarios.


I am not talking about concepts tied to industry networking seminars in the chosen degree by the students.


In reality, some students are trying to navigate their life by balancing multiple casual jobs to pay the rent, university fees, utilities and groceries.


Photo First Row (From Left to Right) : Madalena Granado, Dr Renée Ralph, Athina Hilman, Kyla Matthews

Photo Second Row (From Left to Right) : Corey Wise, Jack Veasey


Not all local university students come from privileged backgrounds and are assisted by their parents.


And certainly, not all international students come from wealthy backgrounds, especially in developing countries where some parents back in Asia have taken a hefty loan from the bank - in hope for their child or children to succeed as an overseas graduate.


The English language is their second language – the lingo and jargon in Australia or any other foreign country is a cultural semantic that any overseas student has to overcome.


So, there are misconceptions, communication and existing cultural issues that need to be addressed. How does oneself benefit from university life?


There are many students that go through university life, not making life-long friends because there is the need to balance work and to pay the bills. The financial pressure is great and even greater if the student is removed from family (if living in a country or living in a new country).


Let alone a young person who just completed high school and is thrown in the world of theories, theories and more theories in lecture theatres and tutorials.


We may have the best tools in pedagogy, video-clips and class materials. However, if we do not understand a student’s point of view or positioning – we, as teachers and their guide will not be able to engage and achieve the potential of each student.


In order to do so, a reliable network support needs to be built for the younger community. The question is HOW?