Victoria University (VU) students Jemma McLeod and Sahil Puri are finalists in the prestigious Victorian International Education Awards 2016.
Celebrating Victoria’s largest services export, the awards aim to recognise and promote excellence in international education across the state's education institutions, companies and service providers, as well as reward the exceptional accomplishments of international students – including VU’s Jemma and Sahil.
Jemma, who is president of Aussie Mates, an orientation program for study abroad and exchange students, is one of two finalists for Victorian Student of the Year – Internationalisation. Sahil, an active member of international student activities at VU and across the state, is a finalist for International Student of the Year – Higher Education.
VU's Naufal Aliy Andra Putra and Kashif Bouns were also nominated respectively in the International Student of the Year – Higher Education and International Alumnus of the Year award categories.
To be announced next month, International Student Award winners will receive up to $10,000 for their studies at an educational institution in Victoria.
Recipients will also be recognised as ambassadors of the Victorian Government’s Study Melbourne initiative and help promote the state as a leading international student destination.
Jemma, a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education) student who has been involved with Aussie Mates for the past three years, says she is thrilled to be recognised for her efforts in helping international students adjust to life at VU, and in Melbourne.
"It’s nice to know I’m recognised but at the same time I don’t do this for recognition," Jemma says.
"I didn’t expect it to be quite honest, it’s very exciting," she says.
Aussie Mates is an important international orientation program at VU, connecting exchange or study abroad students with local Australian students to help make studying in Melbourne easier.
As president of Aussie Mates, Jemma facilitates a diverse social engagement program – including weekend road trips, sporting activities and Melbourne nightlife events – to help the students settle in, make new friends and acclimatise to Australian culture.
Sahil, who is completing his Bachelor of Information Technology, has actively contributed to Victoria’s international student community in various roles – including Vice-President of the Victoria University International Students Association – since he enrolled at VU in 2013.
Since 2014, he has been a public speaker for the Centre for Multicultural Youth’s Shout Out program, presenting at conferences, meetings and workshops throughout Melbourne, and is also a member of the centre’s Youth Advisory Group.
A peer educator for Australian Red Cross, Sahil leads workshops to create awareness of issues relating to forced marriage, and is also a VU Footscray University Town ambassador, in which he promotes and supports communication and collaboration between VU and the local community.
In his nomination, Sahil says he hopes to continue advocating for, and being a role model to, international students and youth in the community, allowing them "to keep up their good work, dream more, learn more, contribute more and become more active members of the community."