Community engagement is a fantastic way for students to give back, learn about new cultures, gain experience, and make lifelong friends. The 2017 winners in the community engagement category have both contributed significantly to their communities. We invited them to share their stories.
Winner: Valérie Baya from Mauritius
Student representation for international and African students
Since arriving in Adelaide, Valérie has been busy advocating for all international students, and in particular for African students.
In 2015, she established the African Society at UniSA welcoming students to learn about African culture. In 2016, Valérie was elected as the International Student Representative on the UniSA Student Association (USASA), working hard to build connections and collaborations with other institutions, forming the International Students Organisation of SA and the African Students Council of SA.
Through her work in student representation, Valérie has had the opportunity to attend many conferences and speak publicly at several events.
What inspired you to get so involved in student representation?
My family and home country are multicultural, so I’ve always loved learning from different people and cultures.
When I was studying in Malaysia, I was involved in making videos aimed at breaking down cultural stereotypes, and I wanted to continue to teach people the truth about different cultures here in Australia.
I’m most inspired by talking to students and finding out what they need. Being an advocate for African students and all international students is a great responsibility and opportunity, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done.
Describe what receiving this award means to you
It gives me hope that I’m on the right track for my future, and the sacrifices I’ve made have paid off.
My time in Adelaide has made me the person that I am. I’ve learnt leadership among the African community and other student communities. My experience is the ‘start-up’ for who I want to be.
It’s inspired me to continue to work with people and communities. My dream is to one day run my own NGO where I can continue to advocate for inclusion and unity.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Adelaide?
Everything is so close! From where I live, I can easily get to Rundle Mall to do my shopping and it’s a short walk to the university for my studies.
Highly Commended: Sharifah Aida Hana from Malaysia
When Sharifah first arrived in Adelaide, she was nervous about making friends, but her passion for volunteering opened up a whole new world of friendship and fun in her new home.
Sharifah has given her time to help organisations both within her university and in the wider community. And in the process, she’s made many lifelong friends, experienced new cultures, and gained new skills.
Sharifah has volunteered at over 20 community events both on and off-campus, including the OZAsia Festival. She’s also volunteered with Zambero’s Plate 4 Plate campaign, packing meals to help feed people in need.
When Sharifah is not busy studying or volunteering, she loves to head to Glenelg Beach for ice cream with friends – many of whom she’s made through her volunteering efforts.