The Old Paradians Association was proud to present the inaugural Lewis Derrico Old Paradian Young Achievement Award to Michael Donato (2017) at the College’s Commencement Assembly on 16 February. Michael was joined by his proud parents Carmine and Grace.

The Award was created by the OPA in 2023 to commemorate the memory of Lewis Derrico, 1974 College Captain, former teacher at the College, and driving force in the reestablishment of the OPA serving as President for over 10 years until his health prevented his continuation in the role.

We were so very pleased to welcome Lewis’ wife, Ana, and their children Louisa, Rachel, and Daniel to the Assembly. Close family friends, former staff member Joe Marchio and his wife Gina were also in attendance. Ana was able to proudly present the Award to Michael.

An important part of what the Association does is to look towards opportunities to recognise achievement through our Awards Program. The Lewis Derrico Old Paradians' Association Young Achievement Award looks towards promoting the achievement of our more recent Old Paradians.

Details of our Awards can be found on our website.

Following is a copy of my presentation speech to the Assembly, to perhaps paint a picture of this new Award and details of the wonderful qualities and achievements of Michael since leaving the College in 2017. I have also included Michael’s outstanding acceptance speech.

John Nicholls' Presentation Speech

It gives me great pleasure to announce to the College the recipient of the Lewis Derrico Young OP Achievement Award to Old Paradian Michael Donato, older brother of this year’s College Captain David and his brother Steven

The award was founded by the OPA in 2023 to commemorate the memory of Lewis Derrico, College Captain 1974, former teacher at the College and driving force in the re-establishment of the OPA serving as President from 2009-2021. Lewis was an outstanding and very proud Old Paradian inducted as a Tenete Award winner, the highest esteem the Association can bestow upon an old boy. Lewis passed away in December 2022.

Special welcome to Lewis’s wife Ana and their children Louisa, Rachel and Daniel.

An important part of what the Association does is look towards opportunities to recognise achievement through our Awards Program.

The OPA Awards Committee unanimously recommended Michael Donato to be the inaugural recipient of the Lewis Derrico OP Young Achiever Award. I had the privilege of informing Lewis about the naming of the Award in his honour and Michael’s recommendation shortly before he passed away. He was so very proud! He was tremendously impressed by Michael as an outstanding young man.

Welcome to Michael’s parents Carmine and Grace

The criteria for the Award includes:

That the recipient displays an outstanding contribution to professional, personal and working life; Further the recipient has achieved outstanding academic results.

Michael was an outstanding student and leader at the College appointed College Captain in 2017 achieving excellent VCE results. He accepted an offer to undertake an Arts Degree at the University of Melbourne.

Michael then completed his Arts Degree at University of Melbourne in Politics, Media and Communication and Italian Studies where he obtained First Class Honours achieving the Deans Honours list for outstanding academic achievement and the Dr Soccorso Santoro Prize as the highest ranked Italian Studies student and recipient of a Wyselelaski scholarship for Modern languages

Michael now is in the final stages of his ‘Doctor of Law’ program at the University of Melbourne. Interestingly Michael was taught by distinguished OP and College Captain 1986 Professor John Tobin who currently Chairs International Human Rights Law at the University.

Michael has been able to secure a highly sort after paralegal position at law firm Gilbert and Tobin that he undertakes concurrently with his studies. He has been a teaching Assistant, Secretary of the Melbourne University Law Review and served on the Executive of the University’s Law Society

Michael has worked at Parade College with Ms Calia in the Performing Arts space with its Musical productions over a 5 year period. He spent countless hours bringing the Parade 150 Past Present production, a production together that was 2-3 years in the making. Ms Calia spoke of his incredible work ethic. More importantly his generosity of spirit and kindness in the way he went about things.

Michael has a great love of the College

His willingness to serve on the OPA Executive focussing on young OPs reflects his generosity in giving back. He was elected the OPA’s Vice President in 2023

Michael you are genuine role model to our current students, and I am proud to invite Lewis Derrico’s wife Ana to present your award

Congratulations Michael.

Michael Donato's Acceptance Speech

Michael accepted the award with humility and appreciation:

Thank you, John, thank you Ana. I’d like to extend my thanks to the Old Paradians’ Association committee, including Mr Aiello, for the nomination and to all members of the Derrico family; including Lewis’ three children who are here with us this morning.

It’s a great honour to stand before you today as the first recipient of the Lewis Derrico Young Old Paradian Award, but in doing so I know this award is not bestowed in isolation and is a reflection of the collective effort of everyone who has supported me along the way.

To my family, friends, and the many people in this very room who have stood alongside me throughout my schooling and professional journey to date, I am forever grateful for your unwavering belief in my potential.

And especially to Lew. It’s no coincidence that this award is named after Mr Derrico; a good man, an inspirational mentor and someone who always saw the best in people and the world. It was through Lew’s steadfast commitment to compassionate and servant leadership that I learnt so much about how to be a leader myself, as a man of action and honour. I will be forever grateful for his guidance and mentorship, and I hope that as the inaugural recipient of this award, I can continue to do him proud.

Thank you.