The Victorian International Education Awards (VIEA) recognises outstanding achievement and excellence in international education in Victoria. These prestigious awards recognise and celebrate leaders in Victoria’s international education sector and the outstanding achievements of international students. We are pleased to profile our four finalists in the category of Higher Education.

You can check out the finalists for English Language Training here and Vocational Education and Training here.

Winners of the student awards were announced on 9 September 2014 in Melbourne, Victoria. The winner is awarded a scholarship of up to $10,000 for study related expenses at a Victorian educational institution.

Mr Ishaku Lemu Haruna, Nigeria

Transitioning from a disadvantaged education system in his homeland and being away from his wife for the birth of their son were two of the challenges Ishaku faced in studying a Master’s of Science (Biotechnology) at Swinburne University. He credits his personal determination and the numerous support services offered by Swinburne University for international students with helping him succeed. He was the CISA Best International Student – Post Graduate and was part of its video campaign ‘I’m not an Australian, but I have an Australian story.’ “These achievements are in themselves a source of inspiration to other students as I have been invited to share my story with different students groups.”

Ms Withitaporn Sangprakong, Thailand

Taking opportunities, discarding fear and participating in activities has brought Withitapornpriceless experiences and memories. While studying for an Associate Degree in Business at NMIT in Melbourne, she has been an International Student Ambassador for the City of Melbourne, has volunteered with ASEAN Games and ASEAN Youth Summit and showcased her Thai culture as part of Thai cultural festivals and the Australia Day parade. “My heart is filled with joy when I know that my help is useful to other people. I learn and gain more experiences, perspectives, skills and I also gain many new friends from being a volunteer.”

Ms Yuanbin Wei, China

Yuanbin’s journey to studying a Masters of Teaching at Monash began with a Chinese TV drama made in Australia. “I loved the beautiful scenery and after high school I came to Melbourne.” Now in her sixth year in Melbourne she loves the lifestyle, multicultural atmosphere and being exposed to different learning opportunities. “I have been to different states in Australia and to anyone interested in visiting, I recommend Melbourne, it is my second home.” Yuanbin is also familiar with regional Victoria, having spent time working in China study and Chinese language programs in two Gippsland schools. Now studying to become a Chinese language teacher, Yuanbin is an active volunteer in community development projects and as a Lifeline counsellor.

Ms Karena Kam Yan Wong, Hong Kong

Like her elder sister before her, Karena was determined to study in Melbourne and is now undertaking a Bachelor of Commerce at Monash University. She also works with autistic children and their families through the Autism Behaviour Intervention Association. “During my studies in Melbourne, I have had a wonderful experience being aninternational student in both academic and non-academic aspects. I enjoy my stay here soI have decided to work and live in Melbourne after my Bachelor degree.” Karena was part of the Monash Innovator Program and was the winner of the 2013 Malaysia Australia Business Competition.