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2015 Victorian International School Student Awards

Emily Umstad

Wed Jun 03 2015


THE 2015 Victorian International School Students Awards recognised international high school students for their incredible achievements in sports, leadership, community engagement and academic excellence. Emily Umstad has more details.

Photo: Megan Ong

Celebrating excellence and outstanding achievement at the 2015 Victorian International School Student awards. Photo: Megan Ong

The 2015 Victorian International School Student Awards celebrated and recognised the outstanding accomplishments of Year 11 and 12 international students across the areas of academic excellence, community engagement, global citizenship, sports achievement and student leadership.

Held on May 21 at Parliament House, the awards ceremony was hosted by Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier, Ms Judith Graley, who said the awards symbolised the “educational exchange” between Australia and other countries around the globe.

Speaking before an audience of award recipients, school staff and proud family members, Ms Graley said international students “[enhanced] our own multicultural Victoria” with their contributions within schools and towards Victorian communities.

The most prestigious award of the day, the Ambassador Award for the International School Student of the Year, went to Cynthia Lam from Balwyn Secondary College. Although Cynthia was absent due to her overseas study, she was recognised as a student who achieved academic success, leadership and global citizenship with her work in her local community and at her school.

Cynthia developed a number of programmes to help international students at her school which included a ‘buddy system’ for local and international students to pair up and work together. She also worked on a medical exchange in Thailand and developed a water purifier that produces hydrogen through photo-catalysis. This invention led Cynthia to become a finalist at the BHP Science and Engineering Awards in 2013 as well as a finalist and the Australian representative at the 2014 Google Science Fair in California.

Other students like Year 11 students, Gerald Mini Farfan and Gary Mao, and Year 12 student Jingqi Wang, performed similarly well and demonstrated an outstanding effort in their respective fields of achievement.

Gerald Mini Farfan (Year 11 Sports Achievement Award)

Photo: Megan Ong

Star athlete Gerlad Mini Farfan more South American students come to study in Australia.  Photo: Megan Ong

Born in Peru, Gerald is an elite athlete. A swimmer, soccer player and cross country runner, the Peruvian high school student has won numerous awards including a bronze medal at the Tasmanian State Championships for swimming, and second and third place titles at the Associated Catholic College swimming competitions. Gerald also recently took first place for the ACC Cross Country Under-16 Championship.

The star athlete is described as a positive, generous and inspiring student at his school, Salesian College, and hopes to have a future as a professional athlete and an architect.

Upon receiving his award, Gerald showed humility and “[wanted] to thank [his] teachers and supportive family”.

He hopes to inspire “more South American people to come to this wonderful country” to study and gain the same opportunities that he has had.

When asked what advice he has for students wanting to study in Australia, he said that “they [needed] to work hard and fight for their dreams to be successful”.

Gary Mao (Year 11 Community Engagement Award)

Photo: Megan Ong

Gary wants to see more international students become active in their local communities. Photo: Megan Ong

Awarded International Student Captain at his school, Gary has always been inspired to help others in the community and bridge the gap between local and international students. As the Treasurer of the Moreland City Council’s Oxygen Committee, Gary has been a youth representative on local issues for his community and his school, Brunswick Secondary College.

For Gary, achieving the Community Engagement Award “means that international students are recognised in the community”.

There are no differences between international and domestic students. Receiving this award means that Victoria recognises the importance of international students to the community, he added.

Gary aims to inspire more international students to become active members in their local community. His passion for community service had inspired Gary to look towards a future in social work where he can “make connections” with those in the community.

Gary’s advice to international students is to “[not] be scared” and encourages students to be “be open and connected”.

Jingqi Wang (Year 12 Academic Excellence Award)

Photo: Megan Ong

Academic excellence personified – Jingqi’s dedication and work ethic has not gone unnoticed. Photo: Megan Ong

Jingqi’s amazing dedication and work ethic saw her achieve straight A+ grades through Year 11 and 12, culminating in the perfect ATAR of 99.95 in 2014.

Now studying Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne, with hopes of being involved in scientific research in the future, Jingqi has achieved much success academically: she finished in the top 0.3 per cent of the Australian Mathematics Competition, achieved a high distinction at the National Chemistry Quiz and has won several other major mathematic awards and competitions.

Jingqi also regularly volunteers at an aged-care facility and spends time with residents and their preparing meals.

On receiving this prestigious award the proud Chinese student said, “It’s a great honour – it recognises my efforts academically, I am really grateful.”

“Victoria is such a great state to live and study in as it is open and tolerant, and provides so many opportunities for international students,” said Jingqi who also advised international to “seize opportunities and work hard”.

These are just some of the students who walked away with the major awards. The full list of winners on the day include:

Year 11

Academic Excellence Award:  Xi Wang (Northcote High School)
Community Engagement Award: Gary Mao (Brunswick Secondary College)
Global Citizen: Jack Zhou (Keilor Downs College)
Sports Achievement: Gerald Mini Farfan (Salesian College)
Student Leadership: Charles Charles (Keilor Downs College)

Year 12

Academic Excellence Award: Jingqi Wang (Balwyn High School)
Community Engagement Award: Bun Hagiwara (Brighton Secondary College)
Global Citizen: Cynthia Lam (Balwyn High School)
Student Leadership Award: Essie Ma (Wellington Secondary College)
International Student of the Year Award: Cynthia Lam (Balwyn High School)