Olena Nguyen is not only on her way to becoming a social worker, she’s also an international student from Vietnam, an official ambassador at Study Melbourne, and a recent finalist in the Victorian International Education Awards for International Student of the Year – Higher Education.
Announced at an event at Melbourne’s BMW Edge, the award was presented to Nguyen Than (Daniel) Dat from Deakin University. The fact that Olena didn’t win on the night, doesn’t mean the VU student is disappointed.
“Being one of 18 finalists for Victorian International Education Awards 2018 of Study Melbourne remains both an honour and a pleasure. Just being considered makes me proud and I know my parents are also proud of this achievement.”
Olena is also proud of her commitment to connecting with community. Despite her hectic academic load, Olena makes time to volunteer. After completing an undergraduate accounting degree at Latrobe, the first year Social Work student says volunteering has helped her get first-hand experience, improve practical skills and build an extensive professional network, all thanks to participating in a range of activities and organisations, including Project Officer at Australian Federation of International Students (AFIS).
“Volunteering has changed my life and helped my social and professional development. I came to Australia not only to study and develop a network, but to make friends and create lasting social connections.”
Volunteering also revealed Olena’s natural flair for connecting with people.
“From my perspective, being a social worker is an advocate for those who cannot speak up for themselves — they can make a big difference to the lives of others.”
When it comes to Olena’s future, the undergraduate student has big plans.
“I want to keep moving forward, and keep volunteering until I’m 80 years-old! I can definitely see myself getting involved in a not-for-profit organisations, as well as projects or programs that benefit the community and improves people’s lives. Right now I just want to do my best to stay motivated, dedicated, and committed to my volunteering and leadership roles. No matter what happens next, I’m prepared.”
Olena is studying the Bachelor of Social Work.