Student Awards

2019 International Students of the Year

For the first time in the history of our International Student Awards we are proud to announce dual winners of the 2019 StudyAdelaide International Student of the Year; Alessandro Sereni from Italy and Thien Khoi (Richard) Tran from Vietnam. Both Alessandro and Richard have achieved outstanding academic results and made major contributions to their communities.

The judges consider Alessandro to be a true global citizen working towards a career in international development where he wants to have a positive impact on the world.  Richard is an exceptional law student well on his way to realising his dream of practising law and improving the prison system.

Winner: Alessandro Sereni from Italy

Studying: Master of International Development at Flinders University

Growing up in a family where travel and community service were highly valued, it’s easy to see why Alessandro Sereni has become a global citizen with a desire to help people in need. Alessandro has sought an international education studying in Italy, the UK, China, South Korea, Indonesia and, of course, Adelaide. Throughout his studies, Alessandro has pursued specialist knowledge in disciplines including environmental studies, international relations, gender studies and applied geographical information systems.

With high distinctions in all subjects and a GPA of 7.0, Alessandro’s academic achievements are extraordinary. However, academic achievement isn’t his only focus. Alessandro has a charitable mindset and chose the Master of International Development so he could have a wider positive impact on the world around him. He’s no stranger to community service having volunteered in various environmental and social programs for many years. Alessandro feels there is an urgent call for people to make the needs of the world’s underprivileged and vulnerable their top priority. Alessandro has been answering this call throughout his studies and will continue to do so in his career.

Why did you choose Adelaide for your postgraduate study?

While I was studying for my bachelor’s degree in Italy, I spent six months at Flinders University on an exchange program.  After I graduated, I studied and worked in China and South Korea, but Adelaide was always in the back of my mind. I had come back a few times on holidays, but I knew I eventually wanted to come back as a full-time student because I loved Adelaide so much.

How has Adelaide added to your life as a ‘true global citizen’?

The first time I came to Adelaide was in 2012. I lived on campus at Flinders University and had friends from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Europe. Adelaide is such a multicultural melting pot, and I was inspired to see all these different cultures living together side by side and sharing their experiences. Here I can go to cultural events and festivals, which further drive my passion and global mindset. I’ve also travelled during my time in Adelaide, spending a month in Indonesia on a placement as part of the ACICIS Development Studies Professional Practicum where I interned with PLAN International.

How have you contributed to the South Australian community?

I’ve been volunteering with the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia. As part of this, I make weekly visits to aged-care residents of Italian descent. This has been a wonderful opportunity to help people with a comforting ear, and also connect with my linguistic and cultural roots. I’m a mentor in the Flinders Inspire Mentor Program and assisted with the creation of the Flinders International Postgraduate Scholars Association. I’ve also attained the ‘SafeTALK Suicide Alertness for Everyone’ certificate so I can notice and respond to situations where thoughts of suicide may be present.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

I’d like to stay in Australia and work for an international organisation in the development sector where I can continue to help people in need.

Alessandro was also the winner in the Academic Excellence: Postgraduate (Coursework) category.


Winner: Thien Khoi (Richard) Tran from Vietnam

Studying: Bachelor of Laws (Honours), Bachelor of Business (Marketing) at the University of South Australia

Since arriving in Adelaide in 2017, Richard has excelled in his studies receiving many high distinctions and a GPA of 7.0. His academic achievements have him well on his way to becoming a qualified lawyer and pursuing his goal to improve the prison system and help offenders turn over a new leaf. As one of the few international students in his class, Richard says he is motivated to work hard and enjoys the challenge of studying the richness of the English language.

Aside from his academic pursuits, Richard contributes to the community in a variety of ways, including volunteering at the Enfield Community Lunch Club and in other local community initiatives. Richard is also the Sponsorship Director of the University of South Australia Law Students Association, and President of the Vietnamese International Student Association of Adelaide (VISA), which supports all Vietnamese students in Adelaide. Richard is an all-round achiever with great aspirations to continue to give back to his community as a future legal practitioner.

Where did your burning passion for the law come from?

Law is an intellectually demanding pursuit, but in return, it gives abundant dividends of joy. The law has a particular way of using the richness of the English language, and I enjoy studying this. Law isn’t about vague and irrelevant rules. It impacts our daily lives and is a means to assist our society to function.  Law is interesting. It teaches me to think critically, which I love. It’s a good match for me.

What do you like about studying law in Adelaide?

The legal profession in Adelaide is small enough that I’ve had the privilege to meet many practitioners, including prominent barristers and judges. In Adelaide you get to network with people in your industry and learn from them. I can’t think of any disadvantage of studying law in Adelaide.

How have others contributed to your study success?

Above all, I owe everything to my family. My mum and dad have worked their entire life to support me. My achievements are truly insignificant compared to what they have been through. My family is the motivation that propels me forward.

I’m also grateful for the continuous support of everyone at the University of South Australia Law School who go the extra mile for students. And to all of the VISA board members who have helped me to learn and grow during my studies. Another person who has been important in my study journey is my mentor and friend Tim Looker OAM. He has not only enlightened me about so many things in life but is also a great listener whenever I need it.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

My goal is to become a qualified solicitor and eventually a barrister. I want to serve disadvantaged groups of people who have limited access to justice. My major aspiration is to improve the prison system and create a sustainable and meaningful way for prisoners to integrate back into the community after their release. I’d like to see offenders take responsibility for their actions and make amends firsthand. I think this will do great good for our society and emphasise human value.

Richard was also a co-winner in the Academic Excellence: Undergraduate category.

Click here to view the full list of our 2019 award recipients

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