Higher Education Finalists

Forough Ataollahi (Iran)
Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga

Forough arrived in the NSW Riverina from Shahr-e Babak, Iran, in 2015. Here she began a Doctor of Philosophy at Charles Sturt University (CSU)
and quickly proved herself to be a passionate advocate and leader for international students. The 33-year-old is also tireless in her service to
newly arrived immigrants in the local community. From the first, Forough has been involved in the CSU International Club, becoming club president in 2016. In September 2017 she was elected women’s officer for national peak international student body, the Council of International Students Australia (CISA). In this role, Forough delivered the first CISA International Women’s Conference, and continues to work hard to establish international student workshops on leadership and sexual assault. Off campus, Forough volunteers with several community organisations, including the St Vincent de Paul’s Resettlement Program and the Wagga Wagga City Library’s Language Café initiative. Forough also provides valued input at the Multicultural Council of Wagga Wagga’s informal Cultural Club meetings.

Vidushi Bhagwanani (India)
Macquarie University, Sydney

At just 21 years of age, Vidushi is already displaying the tenets of a true leader. Hailing from Delhi, India, the Macquarie University student, who began her Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Mechanical Engineering in 2015, is a passionate advocate for gender equality, cultural diversity and promoting the work of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In 2017, Vidushi became a student ambassador with Engineers Australia. This year, she was selected as president of Macquarie’s Engineering Society—the first time the position has been held by
a woman or an international student. She continues to support fellow students and the broader community through her work on a variety of initiatives, including mentoring, study tours and excursions, industry events and fundraising. All the while, Vidushi remains humble: ‘I feel like my journey of life has just begun and I have a long way ahead to contribute to society on a large scale,’ she says.

Nirosha Kumudini Ranawaka (Sri Lanka)
University of New England, Armidale

Through her dedication to volunteer work, Nirosha, who is undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) has become known as someone to go to for advice on settling into the local community. The 45-year-old, who comes from Colombo, is also a leader for the Sri Lankan community throughout Australia, thanks to her series of SBS broadcasts in the Sinhala language—some are designed to be helpful for international students and new arrivals, while others are on areas where Nirosha has particular subject matter expertise, such as entomology and environmental science. Nirosha saw the need for this service and engaged with SBS to deliver it. She is also passionate about child wellbeing and, as part of the UNE International Student Ambassador program, organised two International Children’s Performances in 2017, for which she received an outstanding achievement award. In 2018 she was invited to present ‘words of encouragement’ at the mayor’s civic welcome to newly arrived international students in Armidale.

View all finalists for the 2018 NSW International Student Awards across five categories

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