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Malaysian Fang Xuan Koay receives top honours at the Victorian International Education Awards 2015

DRIVEN, passionate and determined to give back to the community, 22-year-old Fang Xuan Koay recently received  the Premier’s Award and the International Student of the Year Award for Higher Education for her work in advocating for international students’ rights. In a series of interviews with award winners of the 2015 Victoria International Education Awards, Nicole Tee brings you stories worth celebrating.

Image: Mai Nguyen

Fang Xuan Koay is the proud recipient of the Premier’s Award and the International Student of the Year Award for Higher Education at this year’s Victorian International Education Awards. Image: Mai Nguyen

For Malaysian Fang Xuan Koay, contributing back to the society has always been on her mind.

With a passion in supporting international students and the wider community, it is no wonder Ms Koay won the overall international student award this December, on top of the award she bagged as the 2015 International Student of the Year in Higher Education.

Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne, Ms Koay aspires to contribute to improving the world economy and alleviating poverty by working in an international NGO such as Central Bank or IMF.

Her passion for international students’ rights has naturally led her to take on volunteering at the Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia (MASCA), eventually establishing the careers arm at MASCA.

Seeing a need for students to be better informed about their career prospects both in Melbourne and Malaysia, Ms Koay initiated a programme that would help improve working opportunities for Malaysians in Australia.

 What you have encountered before and what kind of challenges that you have encountered that shapes you into who you are today. That’s when you can actually stand out and be special.

“Very often, [international] students who come to Australia think that there are a lot of job opportunities here and they have some misunderstanding maybe, because they don’t really know what’s going on here,” she said.

Ms Koay helps international students from Malaysia understand the career scope in Malaysia and Melbourne, the labour market for both countries and informs them about the available opportunities through career fairs and workshops. The initiative has assisted more than 5,000 Malaysians studying in Australia to be prepared for future employment.

Ms Koay was also responsible for establishing the CISAmbassador, CISATalk and the International Student Leadership Program initiatives while serving as national secretary and the Victorian representative at international student peak body the Council of International Students (CISA). The initiatives were all aimed at empowering student leaders with essential skills.

Her involvement through these groups have provided her opportunities to engage with stakeholders including the Federal and State governments. Reflecting on student life and her active participation in the student community, Ms Koay says “experience” is what makes an international student stand out in Australia.

Very often, [international] students who come to Australia think that there are a lot of job opportunities here and they have some misunderstanding maybe, because they don’t really know what’s going on here.

“There’s a lot more to offer when you are overseas and what makes you stand out of the crowd or your peers is actually your experience,” she says.

“What you have encountered before and what kind of challenges that you have encountered that shapes you into who you are today. That’s when you can actually stand out and be special.”

The Victorian International Educational Awards (VIEA) is an awards ceremony that celebrates the outstanding achievements of education institutions and international students in Victoria.

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Meld Magazine was incorporated as an independent not-for-profit media outlet in September 2008 to reach out to international students in Melbourne, and provide students the opportunity to gain real work experience.

Many international students live in or around the city because of the proximity to their colleges and universities, and that was where we decided to focus our efforts first. Many of us live, work and study locally too. Our editorial team is made of both local and international students, and it has worked to our advantage in providing local content in every sense of the word.

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