Victorian International Education Awards Finalists 2015

The Victorian International Education Awards are an initiative of the Victorian Government to celebrate the exceptional accomplishments of students, education providers, businesses and not-for-profit organisations in the international education sector in Victoria. We are very excited to announce this year’s finalists, all of which are brilliant examples of the international student community.

Victorian Student of the Year – Internationalisation


Danny Ong

Danny Ong
Danny is currently completing his PhD in Sociology at Monash University. He has worked as a presenter for newly arrived international students at the Study Melbourne Information Day since 2010 and is a regular at speaking engagements for international students. Danny has also published a book, ‘The International Students’ Handbook – Living and Studying in Australia’ which empowers international students to take ownership of their student experience. Danny is a mentor to a number of international student leaders for the Council of International Students Australia and Australia Federation of International Students. He is a member of the Victoria Multicultural Commission Regional Advisory Committee for the Eastern Metropolitan Area.


Joslyn MaJoslyn Ma
Joslyn is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Law at Monash University. She is heavily involved in the Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA) which aims to strengthen ties between Australian and Chinese students and is the Founder and President of the ACYA VIC Bilingual Language Competition. The competition allows bilingual students the opportunity to showcase their cross-cultural understanding and language proficiency. Joslyn is also the ACYA Monash Vice President of Education and has implemented the ‘Buddy Program’. The program pairs domestic and international students together and aims to enhance cultural integration and provide a platform for members to improve their language skills.


Siamak Sam LoniSiamak Sam Loni
Siamak is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts, Double Honours (International Studies and Politics) at Monash University. He is the Global Coordinator of United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) – Youth Division, and an executive member of the UN SDSN Australia/Pacific Regional Centre.  Siamak was elected as the first President of the Monash International Affairs Society and has worked with the United Nations and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (AusAID division) to bring together individuals from 22 countries for the High Level Youth Summit on the Millennium Development Goals.  Since 2013, Siamak has worked with Monash University Global Engagement to mentor students participating in global conferences.


Tiffany NicholasTiffany Michelle Nicholas
Tiffany is completing a Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Management at Deakin University. After completing a semester abroad in the USA, Tiffany applied to become a Peer Advisor for the Study Abroad office at Deakin University. She was elected as the President of the Deakin Study Abroad Club, which aims to improve student experience and provide support. She has been involved in the Deakin Study Abroad Office ‘Beach Welcome’, which encourages international students to form connections with one another and introduce them to the wider community. Tiffany has organised a number of events for exchange students including social nights, group attendance at Australian sporting events and end of semester events.


Wesa ChauWesa Chau
Wesa is currently completing a PhD in Leadership at the Swinburne University Leadership Institute. Wesa has worked closely with international students since her undergraduate studies and founded the Australian Federation of International Students (AFIS) in 2002.  In 2010, she was recognised for her efforts at AFIS and awarded the Young Victorian of the Year. Wesa has helped Culture Card Victoria implement the student ambassador program and has been involved in numerous conferences and forums relating to international students. She is a board member of the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria and board member at Carers Victoria. She has been an Australia Day ambassador since 2011 and is a Responsible Gambling Ambassador.

International Student of the Year – English Language Training

Doanh Thuc NguyenDoanh Thuc Nguyen
Doanh, from Vietnam, is undertaking a Certificate IV in Business at Ozford College.
Striving to achieve her dream of becoming a wedding planner or events organiser, Doanh chose to study in Victoria to build on her work experience, improve her English skills and interact with local and other international students. She has developed a better understanding of the various customs and practices of other countries by being part of Victoria’s multicultural and multi-ethnic communities.
Doanh has excelled in the program and was recently awarded the Student of the Course Endeavour Award from Ozford .

Goktug Sezer GaripGoktug Sezer Garip
After finishing a Degree in Mechanical Engineering in his home country of Turkey, Goktug enrolled in a language course at Impact English College in Victoria. Outside of his day-to-day studies, Goktug has used a range of opportunities to practice his English and forge connections in the community. This includes a range of extracurricular activities and groups introduced through Impact English College, and volunteering as a barista for Hamadova Café (a Salvation Army initiative). The completion of his studies at Impact English College will help Goktug pursue his goal of attaining his Masters in Professional Engineering at Swinburne University.

Jirayut PrompenJirayut Prompen
Jirayut, from Thailand, is studying English at the Monash University English Language Centre, after receiving a scholarship from the Thai Government to study abroad.
In Victoria, Jirayut has volunteered as a student leader at the Monash University English Language Centre, a support coordinator on Family Fun Day for Down Syndrome Victoria, and is a member of the Sunday Church kitchen staff at the Doncaster Salvation Army centre.
He has also joined a leadership training program at Monash College and has gained confidence in public speaking. Jirayut hopes to develop an online page for Thai students in Victoria to connect and share their experiences with one another.

Charlie ShinSeunghyun (Charlie) Shin
Charlie is from Korea and is currently undertaking an English language course at Impact English College. Aspiring to become a sports physiotherapist, Charlie chose to study English in Victoria because of its expansive sporting activities and opportunities and its multiculturalism.
To improve his English skills and build relationships with others, Charlie joined a local soccer club and takes part in language exchange initiatives where he and other international students practice speaking with one another in English. Charlie also seeks out opportunities where he can volunteer in the local community and help those in .

Taylor ValaiTaylor Valai
Studying ELICOS at La Trobe Melbourne, Taylor, from Samoa, enrolled in the English program to further his studies in Accounting and Finance. He has been actively involved in a number of sporting activities while studying in Victoria, and uses these opportunities to interact with the other players and build his English skills. Studying English in Victoria has also allowed Taylor to engage in conversations with international and local students, build his confidence and create long-lasting. Taylor hopes learning how to speak and write in the universal language of English will assist him in pursuing future studies and job prospects.

International Student of the Year – Higher Education

Fang Xuan KoayFang Xuan Koay
Fang is currently completing a Bachelor of Commerce at The University of Melbourne. As an advocate for international students’ rights, Fang has devoted three years to the Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia (MASCA) and founded the careers arm for MASCA and the Malaysian Summit of Australia. The initiative assists more than 5,000 Malaysians studying in Australia prepare for future employment. Fang was also elected as the National Secretary and Victorian representative of the Council of International Students Australia.During her tenure, she founded the CISAmbassador, CISATalk and the International Student Leadership Program initiatives which aim to empower student leaders with essential skills.

Kai Jie LimKai Jie Lim
Kai is completing a Bachelor of Commerce at The University of Melbourne. Choosing to take on a third major in Marketing on top of Accounting and Finance, Kai hopes to pursue a career in corporate business.
Kai is very active in the student community, as the President of the Australian Federation of International Students and the National Executive Team Financial Officer for the Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia.
He also volunteers as a tutor for the Faculty of Economics at the University of Melbourne and has assisted in volunteer community events including Clean Up Australia Day and the Melbourne Marathon.

Mustika Indah (Nina) KhairinaMustika Indah (Nina) Khairina 2
Nina is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts at Monash University.
She is involved in the Indonesian Student Association and the Monash University Islamic Society, for which she organised an information session with the Victorian Police to raise awareness about Islamophobia and encourage others to overcome their fears.
Nina is also a part of the university’s International Students Services team and is the National President for the Council of International Students Australia. She has volunteered at a local op shop and is involved in various activities in her local community.

Anne SangprakongWithitaporn (Anne) Sangprakong
Anne was awarded an International Student Scholarship from La Trobe University where she is currently completing a Bachelor of Accounting.
She is a dedicated member of her local community and has volunteered as an International Student City Ambassador and a Team Leader for the Lord Mayor’s Student Welcome. She also is the Founder and President of the Thai Student Association at La Trobe University and the Project Director for the Australian Federation of International Students, where she implemented the Amazing Race initiative which has now become an annual event.
Recently, she was awarded the Undergraduate International Student of the Year from the Council of International Students Australia.

International Student of the Year – Research

Ashrafalsadat HosseiniAshrafalsadat Hosseini
Ashrafalsadat, from Iran, is currently undertaking a PhD in Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology at The University of Melbourne. She has contributed to various national and global collaborative projects focused around the topic of resilience factors associated with the mental health and wellbeing of immigrants. She founded the Iranian-Australian Mental Health Professional Network which brings together mental health professionals and GPs to provide members with professional development, peer support and access to local services. Ashrafalsadat is a volunteer at the Office of the Public Advocate, The University of Melbourne and the Australian Action Diaspora, a community encounter volunteer in the Victorian Police Academy, a member of the doctoral academy at the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and was awarded the International Scholarship from Graduate Women Victoria.

Heba ZahidHeba Zahid
Heba is completing her Doctorate of Philosophy at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Monash University. As a mother of three young sons, Heba has mastered the work-life balance and excelled in her academic field of choice. She is a student representative for the Society for Reproductive Biology and the President of the South Melbourne Female Sector at the Saudi Student Association. Heba is heavily focused on bridging the gap between Saudi students and other fellow international and local students, and promotes the importance of interaction and engagement. She is also a volunteer first aid officer at the Hudson Institute and is an advocate for counselling and support services for international students at Monash University.

Jessica PandoheeJessica Pandohee
Jessica is completing her PhD in Applied Chemistry at RMIT University. In 2013, she was chosen to represent her institution at the ProSPER.Net Young Researcher’s School organised by the United Nations University – Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, held in Thailand. Jessica is a member of Conservation Volunteers Australia, Victorian Landcare Gateway, Australian Red Cross and Oxfam Australia. She has been involved in the preservation of Victoria’s coastal beaches from invasive weed species, and is actively involved in various charity runs including TrailsPlus for teens living with cancer and the Mother’s Day Classic. Jessica is also involved in various sports activities and is a student ambassador for RMIT University.

Lemuel LopezLemuel Didulo Lopez
Lemuel is undertaking a PhD in Law at The University of Melbourne. As the President of the Filipino Australian Students Council – Victoria, Lemuel is involved in organising events that foster connections between Filipino and domestic students. Lemuel is also the Deputy Project Director of the 2015 ASEAN-Australia Youth Summit and the Treasurer of the ASEAN Student Councils Association. Lemuel also volunteers as a radio broadcaster for the program ‘Hoy Pinoy’ on 92.3FM, where he discusses and provides free legal advice to on-air callers on various legal issues relevant to Filipinos in Australia.

Wanamina WaehamaWanamina Waehama 2
Wanamina is currently completing a Doctorate of Business Administration at Victoria University. She has been actively involved in student leadership activities and has served as the President of the Victoria University International Student Association (VU-ISA) and as an International Student Representative on the Academic Board. During her time as President of VU-ISA, she was awarded the Student Leadership Award for Outstanding Contribution. She has also served as the Operations Director of the 2015 Organising Committee for the Council of International Students Australia conference and the Council’s International to International Mentoring Program Coordinator. Wanamina has also held the position of the President of ASEAN Youth Organisation.

International Student of the Year – Vocational Education and Training

Joseph KierulfJoseph Manuel Kierulf III
Overcoming the loss of his home and business after the 2013 typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, Joseph arrived in Victoria to study a Diploma of Hospitality and Management at Chisholm Institute. Through his studies, Joseph has completed two industry exchange programs, working at the main culinary centre production kitchen at the MCG. Joseph took part in the Caroline Chisholm Christmas in July fundraising initiative and has volunteered at the Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show, where he was given the opportunity to run the Laucke Creative Kitchen for the entire event. Joseph holds a Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery and was awarded International Student of the Year for 2015 by the Chisholm Institute

Lai Poh LeeLai Poh Lee
Lai is completing an Advanced Diploma of Hospitality at Sunraysia Institute of TAFE (SuniTAFE). In conjunction with three other students, Lai trains and manages students studying their diploma at the SuniTASTE Training Restaurant. Lai is an active community member in Mildura and has volunteered at Slow Food Mildura, Mildura Rotary Club’s Long Luncheon and a function for the Christie Centre, which assists individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. In 2015, Lai was awarded the SuniTAFE International Student of the Year and SuniTAFE Board Excellence Award. Recently, she was involved in a charity fundraising event for Nepal earthquake victims where she, along with other hospitality and Nepalese students, prepared meals for members of the community in order to raise money for UNICEF.

Hybee IyiadeAibinuomo (Hybee) Iyiade
Overcoming extreme poverty, Hybee arrived from Nigeria to complete a Diploma of Nursing at Box Hill Institute. Hybee holds a Certificate III in Aged Care and a Certificate III in Home and Community Care from the Box Hill Institute. At the end of his Aged Care program, he was awarded the Student of Excellence of the Year and a Study Support Scholarship from Box Hill Institute, which recognised his academic achievements and community involvement. Hybee is part of the Young Adult Group of the Reach Community Church in Northcote where he supports young adults experiencing hardships and assists young migrants with integrating into Victorian communities.

Congratulations to the 2015 student finalists who have shown outstanding academic achievements and contributions to the Victorian community. The judges were extremely impressed by the high calibre of entries once again this year, and will announce the 2015 Victorian International Education Award winners on 1 December 2015.