We are proud to announce Himal Kandel from Nepal as the 2018 International Student of the Year. Himal says he received a golden opportunity to work with the best researchers in his field when he came to Adelaide. We think Adelaide also received a golden opportunity to host Himal while he conducted his PhD study, which has the potential to promote a better quality of life for billions of people with refractive error vision impairment.
Winner: Himal Kandel from Nepal
At the age of nine, Himal left his remote Nepalese village to take up a scholarship at one of the country’s most prestigious schools. It was the first step in an illustrious academic career, which has seen Himal study optometry at some of the world’s leading institutions, including Adelaide’s Flinders University. During his time studying, Himal has also worked as a clinician or lecturer in Nepal, the Maldives, Eritrea and Kenya. His research is mainly focused on public health, and he hopes to one day return to his village to open an eye hospital.
Tell us about your life in Adelaide.
Since I arrived in Adelaide I’ve gotten married, and recently we had our daughter, so life has changed a lot. I went back to Nepal to get married a few months after I started my PhD, and then my wife came to Adelaide with me. We love going to all new places across Adelaide, especially the beaches. We’ve found Adelaide to be the perfect city to start a new family.
What sort of extra-curricular activities have you been involved with on campus?
In 2017 I ran a patient outreach event to raise awareness about eye health among students, staff and visitors. It was the first time World Sight Day had been celebrated at the university. I also founded the Flinders University Nepalese Students’ Association, and together we’ve participated in several multicultural festivals and events. After the devastating earthquake in my country in 2015, we raised about $2,000 and sent it to Nepal to support the victims.
What’s been your biggest challenge while studying in Adelaide?
Honestly, I can’t think of a big challenge. I know coming to a new place can be hard, but I have already studied and worked in many places, and I enjoy meeting new people. I’m grateful that the Australian Government Research Training Program has supported me during my PhD, so I’ve not had to worry about funding my studies.
What’s the best part about studying in Adelaide?
My time in Adelaide has been the best time of my life. I’ve had the chance to work with world-renowned experts in my field, and I have accomplished numerous things in a short period. My academic achievements have been made possible because of the resources, opportunities and support from Flinders University.
Also, Adelaide is a multicultural city with zero tolerance for discrimination. It’s very welcoming to foreigners and the perfect place to learn about new cultures and make global friends. People are polite and friendly; the education and health systems are excellent, transparent and client-focused. Adelaide is a safe and beautiful city.
What’s next for you?
I’m waiting to have my PhD review completed and working as a research assistant at both the University of South Australia and Flinders University. I also conduct tutorials for optometry students at Flinders. I’m applying for teaching and research jobs, and I hope to remain in Adelaide.
I aim to be a world-renowned researcher carrying out research projects to demonstrate the impact of refractive errors on productivity, academic performance and quality of life. I know the world-class mentoring, knowledge and skills obtained here in Adelaide will lead me towards my goals.
Himal was also the winner in the Academic Excellence: Postgraduate (Research) category.