Higher Education Finalists

Nayonika Debashish Bhattacharya

Nayonika Debashish Bhattacharya (India)

UNSW Sydney

Nayonika is passionate about helping people around her, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. At weekends, she teaches coding and STEM subjects to girls from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds.

As an Aspire mentor, she has assisted high school students in developing their skills and understanding of the different pathways to higher education, while her work with Enactus UNSW (a network of entrepreneurial leaders who create solutions to improve society) led her to an innovative idea to support the elderly by mobilising university students to assist members of surrounding communities.

Nayonika understands the need to help international students feel safe and empowered to achieve their goals. With this in mind, she created the International Collective room, a judgement free, safe and inclusive space on the UNSW campus. She has also worked to enhance the international student experience by increasing participation in student clubs through her role on the Student Representative Council.

Additionally, Nayonika has helped to inform international students of their legal rights and duties as a coordinator for the Student Legal Education Group run by the UNSW Faculty of Law.  Nayonika continues to look for more opportunities to contribute and is currently working with fellow students and staff members to develop mental health and safety programs.


Divya Jagadeesh

Divya Jagadeesh (India)

UNSW Sydney

Divya is a strong, cheerful and passionate person who is active in a number of societies and community groups. One of these is the “Vishwaas Indian Society” which bridges barriers between domestic and international students through cultural events.

Divya is the post-graduate student representative of the University of NSW Equity and Diversity Committee and an ambassador for Aspire UNSW, helping others overcome barriers to attending university.

She also volunteers on weekends for “Krishna Consciousness”, preparing free lunch meals for those in need in and around North Sydney. A member of “Women in STEM Society”, Divya is a positive role model for women and mothers in science. On International Women's Day 2019, she organised a panel discussion with two prominent scientists at UNSW, with herself as the chair, where she asked questions about the panellists’ career paths, the challenges they faced and the advice they had for junior PhD candidates. This is just one example of how Divya has proactively sought to inspire her fellow students.


Amrit Pal Kaur

Amrit Pal Kaur (India)

University of New England, Armidale

After arriving in Armidale in northern NSW, Amrit rolled up her sleeves and looked for ways to support the community. She began her volunteering by supporting various club activities contributing to University of New England (UNE) open days, promoted social activities at UNE Life Saver Day, and arranged barbeques and annual dinners as the Badminton Club Secretary for student and community players.

Alongside her studies, Amrit joined the International Hub (UNE’s local community outreach) at its inception in 2016. She also cooked enormous amounts of traditional food while on the organisation committee for three National Day events, cheerfully serving it while coordinating volunteers and the accompanying displays relating to Indian culture.

Amrit also volunteers at the Pedal Early Intervention centre, providing a therapy service for children 0-12 that are developmentally delayed or have a disability. Using her research, she engages children by showing sketches of her dung beetles and explaining their life under soil which the children love.


Meet finalists of the 2019 NSW International Student Awards across six categories

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