Ruwangi Fernando (Sri Lanka)

Doctor of Philosophy, Victoria University – Institute for Sustainable Industries and Livable Cities

Moving to a new country is no easy feat, by embracing diversity and inclusivity, you will feel at home in no time. Studying in Melbourne has allowed me to grow and develop as an individual. It had given me perspective and has taught me to appreciate the culture from Sri Lanka as well as the diversity of cultures in Melbourne.

Ruwangi is currently a PhD research student and a sessional academic at Victoria University. She is very passionate about increasing diverse representation across STEM-related studies and professions, which is why she initiated the VU STEM Sisters program in 2017. This program aims to support and celebrate women in STEM and its success has extended beyond the university as well. Ruwangi is a Study Melbourne Ambassador and has also appeared as a panelist for a range of events promoting women and diversity in STEM, including a ‘Learning on the Edge’ event, VU’s International Women’s Day celebrations in 2018, and she recently presented at the Study Melbourne-supported Future Female Conference.

Belle Lim (Malaysia)

Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University / Peter McCallum Cancer Centre (Cancer Genetics)

Moving to Australia for my higher education is the most life-changing decision I have ever made. Looking back, I feel extremely fortunate to spend my most transformative years here in Victoria. While adjusting to a new environment, and experiencing cultural transition are challenging at times, they brought me fresh perspectives that resulted in some tremendous self-growth.

Belle is currently completing a PhD in cancer research at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Monash University. She also sits on the executive committee of Council of International Students Australia (CISA), which represents nearly half of the 700,000 international students currently studying in Australia. A strong advocate for the rights and welfare of female international students, Belle has created a platform called ChangemakHER and recently, she organized the Future Female Conference, which was all about empowering women and advancing gender equality locally and internationally.