Wellington University International—which supports current and prospective international students at the University—also took out the workplace category in the awards. The organisation was nominated by a current employee who is a former international student herself, and works in Wellington University International alongside 16 other international graduates from Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Russia, Germany, and other countries.
Now in their fifth year, the awards are run by WellingtonNZ and recognised 28 students who have excelled academically and in the arts, sport, community, or online.
“This has been a really challenging year for all international students and we are delighted their hard work and resilience has been celebrated in this way,” says Assistant Vice-Chancellor (International) Julia Innocente-Jones. “I am also thrilled at the recognition for Wellington University International. Our team celebrates diversity and works daily to support and promote the needs of international students at the University.”
Students Bryan Tarlowski and Soheil Mohseni won in the academic category. Bryan came from the United States to do a Master of Global Business, following a nine–year gap between studies. After one trimester and excellent grades, he transferred to the Executive MBA programme and has been selected to represent the Wellington School of Business and Government in a worldwide competition on equity analysis.
Soheil started his PhD at the University in July 2018, after moving from Iran. He has spoken at numerous conferences and co-authored several academic papers, including one that was selected for best-presented student paper at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power and Energy Society conference.
COVID-19 and the lockdown period affected all international students, but they could count on the support of Nathirah Saiful Bahri, who won the community resilience category. Nathirah joined the University’s International Students Association as the Vice-President of Equity and was instrumental in getting a Ministry of Education hardship fund made accessible for international students.
A winner in the online category, Andrianne Jing Yi Wong was due to start her studies in April at Wellington’s UP Education, which provides specialist language courses for international students wanting to move on to university. Instead, she had to join her programme online from Malaysia, where she became a mentor for other students. She will be taking up her offer to study at the University in February 2021, initially online and then in person when the border reopens.
Harisu Abdullahi was highly commended in the academic excellence category. He came to the University a year ago from Nigeria to do a PhD on robot-human interactions. He has since published five research papers, one of which won best paper at a conference.
In the community engagement category, Gayan Edirisinghe Pathiranage has completed over 150 hours of volunteer work including as a Wellington City ambassador, a Wellington marathon volunteer, tree planter, and street collector.
Eden Ee is the president of the International Students Association at the University and his work supporting students during the pandemic has been recognised in the domestic category of the awards.
The creativity category went to Bungkung Hout, who came to New Zealand from Cambodia just before lockdown to study for a Master of Architecture. He won the award for his work translating a highly inventive idea into realisable architecture.
The winner in the alumni category was Vikas Tyagi who joined Hutt Valley company Aviat Networks and now leads a team there. He is also involved in training, and in mentoring new employees and international students.