Winners announced for 2020 NSW International Student Awards

9 December 2020

International students and organisations that have started charities, served as school leaders, championed campus multiculturalism, and supported students with food and essential items in the wake of COVID-19 are among the six winners of the 2020 NSW International Student Awards.

The winners of the awards were announced by her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC, QC, Governor of NSW at a ceremony at Government House, Sydney.

The awards recognise the contribution of international students, education providers, business and community organisations from across the state.
Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee congratulated the winners of the NSW International Student of the Year award across four categories:

  • Schools – Tung Linh Ha (Vietnam, Beverly Hills Girls High School)
  • English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) – Shuang Zhang (China, University of Newcastle)
  • Vocational Education and Training (VET) – Elise Hyoin Lee (South Korea, TAFE NSW Ultimo)
  • Higher Education – Jami Emerson (United States, Australian Catholic University)

“The winners were selected from an outstanding calibre of finalists. These are individuals who put their community’s needs ahead of their own and who have shown leadership and courage to overcome all challenges 2020 has thrown their way,” Mr Lee said.

“These contributions and achievements are even more noteworthy when you consider they were unable to return to their home country in 2020, due to the pandemic.”

Mr Lee also congratulated the two winners of the NSW International Student Community Engagement Awards.

The University of Wollongong and community partners’ ‘Food+ with Care Project’ was awarded the ‘Business and Community’ category award and the Macquarie Student Success Support Package initiative was recognised in the ‘Education Providers’ category.

There are currently 141,000 international students studying across NSW.


2020 NSW International Student of the Year - Schools

Tung Linh Ha (Vietnam)

Beverly Hills Girls High School, Beverly Hills

Tung Linh Ha (known by her friends as Andrea) is a Year 12 student at Beverly Hills Girls High School in Sydney. She is originally from Hai Phong (a city in east Vietnam) and has been recognised by her teachers, peers and community as a dedicated student who goes above and beyond to give back.

For the past two years, Andrea has served her community as a House Vice-Captain and Senior Executive Officer, as well as Director of Personnel and Leader of the Wellbeing Committee on the Student Representative Council. She has led initiatives like ‘Be Kind Day’ and SASSY (the school’s intensive English program) and given her time and support to charities including the Salvation Army, World Vision and Harmony Day to name a few.

Andrea is admired by her peers and teachers alike, not only for her academic achievements, but for her pride and respect for her Vietnamese heritage. She has been a key player in the school’s yearly Multicultural Day, sharing her experiences and championing cultural beauty, diversity and cohesion.


2020 NSW International Student of the Year - ELICOS

Shuang Zhang (China)

University of Newcastle, Newcastle

Shuang is a postgraduate student at the University of Newcastle, completing a PhD in Construction Management (Building). Shuang is high-spirited, dedicated to  community, and passionate about spending her time to help those in need.

Shuang is a University of Newcastle volunteer and touches the lives of students and staff at many university events, particularly those that benefit ELICOS students. She also completed her own ELICOS course in 2019 before starting her Doctorate.

Shuang is a multiculturalism champion on campus. She proactively works to bridge academic, professional and cultural gaps between Australia and her homeland, China. She has organised Chinese alumni to share their industry experience with students and continues to facilitate weekly ‘Lucky Lantern’ workshops on campus.

Shuang continues to make significant contributions to her local and global communities through her work with the UNSA International Students Wing, the Australia-China Youth Association and the University of Newcastle Student’s Association.


2020 NSW International Student of the Year - Vocational Education and Training

Elise Hyoin Lee (South Korea)

TAFE NSW, Ultimo

Elise is from South Korea and studying a Diploma of Beauty Therapy at TAFE NSW in Ultimo. Elise’s peers and teachers recognise her for her diligent client care, ability to apply herself to her studies and commitment to the wider community.

Her volunteer work continues to have a lasting impact on the lives of many in the community. She contributes both her time and expertise at charities including: Dress for Success, to empower women to re-enter the workforce by providing clothing and styling advice; the Exodus Foundation, to give back to those experiencing hardship and homelessness; and Randwick Children’s Hospital, where she provides pamper treatments for parents and carers of ill children.

Elise epitomises community spirit and is a role model among her peers. She continues to advocate for vocational education and strengthening education pathways between Australia and her home country.


2020 NSW International Student of the Year - Higher Education

Jami Emerson (United States)

Australian Catholic University, North Sydney

Jami is originally from Oregon City in the United States and is studying a Bachelor of Information Technology at the Australian Catholic University. She has a passion for personal and corporate social responsibility and is known for her relentless commitment and leadership skills.

Jami is the founder-in-residence for the UTS Techcelerator Female Founder Mentoring Program, developing insights into how social responsibility can benefit organisations, businesses and communities.

She also founded her own charity Chronic Hope (having endured the challenges of chronic fatigue syndrome), to help those in the community living with chronic illness achieve better health outcomes and find hope in their situations.

Being from the United States, Jami understood the need for international students to have opportunities to develop their skills for employment outside of university. As part of her charity, Jami offers volunteer opportunities to international students to help kick start their careers.

Jami is constantly looking for ways to contribute, share stories and foster a sense of camaraderie in her community.


2020 NSW International Student Community Engagement Award - Business and Community

Food+ with Care

University of Wollongong and Community Partners, Wollongong

Food+ with Care is an exemplar of a collaborative working group, consisting of University of Wollongong Staff, UOW Pulse Staff, Shining Stars Foundation Street Outreach Service; Turbans 4 Australia; International Christian Church; Corrimal & West Wollongong Rotary, Shellharbour Community Church, the Indian Australian Cultural Association - Illawarra Incorporated and BUPA (OHSC partner). With dedication and innovation, they worked together to support UOW students based across Wollongong and Sydney in the wake of COVID-19.

Formed with staff and students from across campuses, faculties and divisions, as well as eight community organisations, Food+ with Care has been a lifeline for many struggling students and community members. The group continues to provide a connection as well as free grocery packages and toiletry items to people acutely impacted by the global pandemic.

Originally set up as a weekly support service, the scope of support rapidly developed due to overwhelming demand. The group quickly increased capacity to ensure no one slipped through the cracks – delivering donations of food support and essential items to more than 4,000 students to date.

The Food+ with Care group continues to provide unwavering support so that students can focus on their studies. Beneficiaries of the support speak to the warm welcome, care and kindness they receive from volunteers.

Macquarie University

2020 NSW International Student Community Engagement Award - Education Providers

Macquarie Student Success Support Package Initiative

Macquarie University, Macquarie Park

In response to the unprecedent impact of COVID-19, Macquarie University combined forces and resources across the university to create the Macquarie Student Success Support Package (MQSSSP) and effectively address the needs of the international student cohort.

The package provided students with streamlined access to practical support including vouchers and grants, relieving students from financial concerns due to the pandemic allowing them to focus on their studies.

The MQSSSP combined with the University’s Wellbeing App to provide instant advice and referrals to students across a range of wellbeing issues such as stress, productivity and anxiety. More than 3,000 international students have used the app since its creation in March.

By working together to provide financial, professional, and social support, the University was able to positively impact the international student experience during a very challenging time.

Watch the ceremony

Meet our 2020 finalists




Higher Education

Business Community

Education Provider

Thank you to our sponsors

NSW Government

Multicultural NSW

Chartered Accountants

Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand

Colourful Trips (Prize sponsor)