Two inspiring VU students will study and undertake internships abroad in 2023 after receiving prestigious Australian Government scholarships through the New Colombo Plan (NCP).
Sedef Ozen and Alzahraa Shammary both came to Australia as children, leaving behind difficult circumstances in their home countries of Turkey and Iraq. They officially received the NCP Scholarships at an awards ceremony in Canberra in early December.
The New Colombo Plan is an initiative of the Australian Government aimed at increasing knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and live abroad.
Sedef and Alzahraa will travel to the Republic of Korea and Indonesia respectively, staying up to a year in their host countries.
A PASSION FOR EDUCATION
Sedef, a student on VU’s Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), will study at Seoul National University, undertake an internship at Seoul Counselling Centre and complete mentorships and language training throughout.
“I’m incredibly excited to have been chosen as one of 150 NCP Scholars for 2023,” said Sedef. “I’ve been so fortunate with all the opportunities I’ve experienced at VU, and it’s surreal to celebrate this achievement!”
Sedef was born in a small village in Turkey and immigrated to Australia at five years old. Growing up in a single-parent family, with her mother’s limited English making it hard to find stable work, Sedef developed a passion for education.
“It was drilled into me that knowledge was the way out of poverty and hardship, so I’d always look up to students who went off to university, wishing it could one day be me.
“Now I find myself here at VU, studying my dream course and moving towards my dream career, surrounded by peers and colleagues who I consider family and preparing to travel abroad. The young uncertain me that I carry in my heart is jumping in joy and gratitude as I reflect on the things I’ve achieved.”
AN INSPIRING JOURNEY
Alzahraa, a student on VU’s Bachelor of Education (P-12), will head to Indonesia to undertake an internship in a primary school, alongside studying law, international relations and Indonesian language at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta.
“I feel so honoured to have received this scholarship,’’ said Alzahraa. “I’m still in shock, to be honest. I never thought I’d be considered for something like this. It was amazing to be at the NCP ceremony, surrounded by inspiring young people and even meeting the Governor-General. It’s so encouraging to feel people’s belief in me.
“I’m the first in my family to go to university. My parents were refugees from Iraq, and at high school I didn’t do great. But coming to Victoria University has really enabled me to succeed, with the Block Model and extra support.
“I’m so proud that I’ve now been chosen to represent Australia abroad. It really shows that people from any background can achieve something special, and VU is a great place to do that. I’m grateful to my tutors and support staff – without them, I wouldn’t be here.”
A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY
NCP Scholarships are open to eligible Australian undergraduates currently studying at Australian universities. Applicants are assessed according to four criteria: their academic excellence; leadership and engagement in the community; adaptability and resilience; and ability to contribute to the NCP strategic objective and outcomes.
Monty Singh, Chief International Officer at VU, said that Sedef and Alzahraa’s success in passing the competitive application process can serve as an example to others.
“Congratulations to Sedef and Alzahraa on their outstanding achievement. It’s an inspiration to all at VU and beyond to see how they’ve overcome challenges to succeed in their education, contribute to their community and be selected for prestigious awards.