Three international students from the University of South Australia have been recognised for their outstanding achievements at the 2020 StudyAdelaide International Student Awards, held last Friday at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

The 10th annual awards were a celebration of the valuable contribution international students make to the South Australian community. It was a particularly important year to reflect upon and recognise international students given the challenges they’ve faced in 2020 from the impact of border restrictions as a result of COVID-19. Many students have been unable to return home to visit families while other students, who travelled home for the summer holidays, were not able to return to Australia to resume their studies. Despite these challenges, and with support from the University, many students have found ways to not only manage the unprecedented situation but to rise to the challenge, as highlighted at the recent ceremony.

The awards, which showcase the important role international students play in the very make up and fabric of Adelaide life, were live streamed so that family and friends from around the world could tune in to see students receive their awards.

Bachelor of Medical Science student, Thi Minh Vu Hoang, was presented with the undergraduate award for academic excellence. Part of her success was thanks to her receiving the highest mark for her second-year immunology course which also lead to her being awarded the Australasian Society for Immunology prize. She is also a recipient of a Vice Chancellor’s International Excellence Scholarship at UniSA.

As part of her studies, Thi has enjoyed a number of valuable learning experiences including the opportunity to work in labs, complete clinical placements and learn practical skills as part of her research-focused degree.

“My study has nurtured in me a strong love for research, and I’m interested in becoming a cancer research scientist who makes breakthroughs that save lives.”

Thi Minh Vu Hoang receiving her award from StudyAdelaide board chairman Sean Keenihan and His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia.

For business student Xinyi Xu, the beginning of 2020 was shaping up to be a promising year. She was about to fulfill her dream of studying abroad but, due to COVID-19, Xinyi Xu was no longer able to travel to Australia to commence her double degree studies in the Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and Bachelor of Business (Finance).

With the support of university staff and fellow students, Xinyi Xu chose to begin her studies online. She quickly adapted to her new study environment and found herself enjoying the experience, ending the semester with high distinctions in all three of her courses and with a perfect GPA of 7.0. She was awarded a special commendation award by StudyAdelaide to acknowledge her incredible achievement.

Xinyi Xu studying online with UniSA from her home in China

Xinyi Xu credits her success to the support she received from responsive teaching staff and peer assisted study sessions (PASS) and despite never having been to Adelaide, she has found ways to connect to her future home and community.

“I attended online Zoom sessions for commencing international students as well as UniMentor sessions. I’m also working with UniSA SPICED to hold a virtual tour to show attendees my hometown’s night market and teach them how to cook local dishes. I am looking forward to seeing everyone when I come to Adelaide!”

Meanwhile, student Maria Camila Gonzalez Davila, who is here on exchange from the Universidad del Rosario in Colombia, was presented with the academic excellence: pathways award. Camila received the award in recognition of her successful studies at the Centre for English Language (CELUSA) and the leadership she displayed throughout her pathways studies as a student representative.

“I’ve helped students share their difficulties about studying online during the COVID-19 lockdown and given them information about the programs the university and state government have to help international students with financial and other support. I also co-hosted an online presentation to assist students with their transition to virtual learning, share information to improve their wellbeing and encourage them to participate in the CELUSA student experience.”

Another student, Pranish Maharjan, was also recognised in this category and was highly commended for his study achievements and community work while studying at the South Australian Institute of Business and Technology (SAIBT). Pranish is currently completing a Diploma in Health Science and plans to transition into a nursing degree at the University of South Australia in the near future.

For full details of the awards please visit StudyAdelaide.

Maria Camila Gonzalez Davila receiving her award from StudyAdelaide board chairman Sean Keenihan and His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia.