Kelly Wang, a student from the University of New England, is one of 25 international students nominated for the NSW International Student of the Year Awards.
The awards are presented by the NSW Government for “services to the State”, and the festival organisers say that Kelly “has shown unflagging commitment to her studies and the community”. The award winners will be announced during the International Student Festival at Darling Harbour in Sydney on Sunday 6 March.
Kelly Wang (pictured here), who comes from the city of Quan Zhou in China’s Fujian Privince, arrived at UNE in February 2008, and is now in the third year of her four-year Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning degree program. She has, from the beginning, taken an active role in university life and the wider community, as well as earning Distinctions in her academic work.
She now holds the responsible position of Senior Resident Fellow in Wright Village, the University’s self-catering residential complex, after serving as a Resident Fellow in 2009-10. “It’s been a process of learning and growing up,” she said. “At first I didn’t think that, as an international student, I could fill the role of a Resident Fellow – let alone Senior Resident Fellow.”
Kelly has participated in the Vice-Chancellor’s Student Leadership Program at UNE, and in 2009 she went to Melbourne as UNE’s undergraduate representative at a National Union of Students forum. In 2010 she was appointed as a research assistant working with UNE’s Dr Stephen Wood and Associate Professor Robert Baker on a transport planning project in Newcastle. “That was my first experience of professional research,” she said.
Out in the wider community she gained a first-aid qualification, joined a choir at St Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, and, for her first three years in Armidale, worked as a waitress at the “Mandarin” Chinese restaurant. In 2008-9 she was an assistant at “Midnight Basketball”, Armidale’s participation in an international, community-based movement that is helping teenagers stay away from antisocial behaviour. In November 2009 she took part in the New England Congress of the Youth Leading Australia sustainability movement.
This year, Kelly will be working at the United Campus Bookshop branch on campus, and as a catering assistant in UNE’s Duval College. In 2009 she added to her catering skills by completing a barista course at TAFE, and is looking forward to applying her coffee-making skills in her new catering role.
“All these activities have had an important influence on my life – helping me develop as a person,” Kelly said. And, as a participant in UNE’s New England Award (NEA) program, she will have a record of them all when she graduates as a valuable adjunct to her academic qualification.
As the NEA College Representative at Wright Village, she has helped to inform other students about this innovative program that encourages – and rewards – participation in extra-curricular educational and community activities.
“I recommend UNE – and the city of Armidale – as a place where overseas students will find a welcoming and caring environment, and an environment that nurtures the development of leadership and professional skills,” she said, adding that she had been unaware of her nomination for the NSW International Student of the Year Awards.
The International Student Festival, from 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday 6 March at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour, will include live entertainment and a food fair featuring international cuisine. Families and friends of international students studying in NSW, as well as members of the general public, are welcome to attend.