Recognising our international students

The sixth Wellington International Student Excellence Awards were held at The Opera House on 9 November 2021

WellingtonNZ CEO John Allen presenting at the Student Excellence Awards

Organised by WellingtonNZ, the awards recognise high-achieving international students in the Wellington region who excelled academically, in the arts, sport, community or online.

Twenty four secondary and tertiary international students were recognised at the event which was attended by WellingtonNZ Chief Executive John Allen, Wellington Mayor Andy Foster and ambassadors from various Wellington-based embassies.

Learn about some of our high-achieving international students who received accolades at this year’s Wellington International Student Excellence awards.

Jalynne Lee receiving award for Academic Excellence

Academic awards

Victoria University of Wellington doctoral student Thoa Thi Thu Hoang was one of five academic category winners for her policy-relevant work on seismic strengthening.

Having been a doctoral student since 2018, Thoa’s dissertation featured three studies – the first developed a method to rank and prioritise buildings for seismic retrofit in Wellington, which was published in the Disasters journal by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Her second and third analysed the residential red zone programme in Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake, providing valuable insights into future implementation of similar programmes and published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction journal by Elsevier publishing.

Thoa hopes her studies will help councils with their seismic strengthening programmes, and policy makers design much-needed managed retreat programmes.

Creativity awards

One of the two creativity awards went to Ehsan Hazaveh, who has studied at Victoria University of Wellington since 2018 to pursue his interest in representing marginal communities.

He’s put his research on better conveying refugees’ stories by developing humanitarian approaches of photographic storytelling into practice through two solo photo exhibitions showcasing the story of people from a refugee background living in Wellington.

One was opened by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden at New Zealand Portrait Gallery, the other inaugurated as part of the World Refugee Day Festival.

Community awards

Wellington Girls’ College student Jasmine Yip was recognised for her contribution to the community.

Since arriving from Hong Kong in 2020, at school she has been a student council representative as part of a cultural diversity-focused group, and part of an international student committee.

Outside of school she’s Wellington International Students Association vice president, a Student Volunteer Army ambassador, a volunteer at Mary Potter Hospice, St Vincent de Paul Op Shop and CVNZ, and she’s been involved in many one-off events like Round the Bays and Climate Change Strike.

Sports awards

Malaysian student Nurul Izzati took out one of the two sports awards.

After starting studies at Victoria University of Wellington in 2019, she has been playing five sports – basketball, netball, frisbee, futsal, athletics and korfball.

She’s represented Victoria University of Wellington in a tertiary ultimate frisbee tournament, a korfball tournament and won gold in the 100m women’s and 4x100m relay in a Malaysian sports tournament. She was also named sportswoman of the year at that tournament.

Online awards

One of the two online community accolades went to Giam Li Heng Ronel, who was to start his university entrance programme at UP Education in January but border restrictions meant he completed the programme online from Singapore instead.

As well as adapting to the five-hour time difference to successfully finish his university entrance certificate to study at Bachelor of Arts at Victoria University of Wellington, he also helped other students along the way in a mentoring role, and by providing additional translation for fellow mandarin-speaking students.

For a full list of winners

Academic: Gaheun Lee (Wellington Girls’ College), Khanh Van Nguyen (Wellington Girls’ College), Nehara Pandey (UP Education), Thoa Thi Thu Hoang (Victoria University of Wellington), Fabio Mologni (Victoria University of Wellington).

Creative: Chi Huy Tran (Aotea College), Ehsan Hazaveh (Victoria University of Wellington).

Sport: Keisuke Mitsugi (Aotea College), Nurul Izzati (Victoria University of Wellington).

Community engagement: Jasmine Yip (Wellington Girls’ College), Simran Bechan (Victoria University of Wellington), Tung Duc Xuan Nguyen (Victoria University of Wellington).

Leadership: Junil Bae (Wellington College), Timothy Tan (Victoria University of Wellington).

Online Community: Shuyi Ye (Scots College), Giam Li Heng Ronel (UP Education).

Domestic: Chinmay Madhusudhan (Wellington College), Hannah Prince (Victoria University of Wellington).

Alumni: Polwatte Weeramange Chinthaka Karunaratne, Nicolas Delwaide.

Workplace: Assurity Consulting.

Highly commended: Anh Ngoc Hien Nguyen (academic, Wellington Girls’ College), Pawares Arnupapbanjerd (creative, Rongotai College), Hankle Hu (creative, Scots College).

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