Melbourne, November 21: The International Education Awards celebrated Victoria’s best students – Kashif Bouns from Pakistan and Balaji Trichy Narayanaswamy from India being adjudged International Alumnus of the Year and International Student of the Year – Regional, respectively.

Sixteen winners were presented with the coveted awards during the event at Government House tonight, recognising the achievements of Victoria’s 175,000 international students and the leading education providers that support them.

Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis, and also responsible for Victoria’s international education sector; opened the awards ceremony and reiterated the importance of the sector to Victoria’s overall trade revenues.

“A thriving international education sector changes people’s lives for the better, while also generating jobs and economic growth for Victoria”.

Congratulating the award winners, he said: “I look forward to seeing you continue to go from strength to strength as ambassadors for Victoria – the country’s Education State.”

Kashif Bouns adjudged as the International Alumnus, is currently engaged with Western Bulldogs Community Foundation at the Whitten Oval.

Kashif Bouns receiving International Alumnus of the Year award from Minister Philip Dalidakis
Kashif Bouns receiving International Alumnus of the Year award from Minister Philip Dalidakis @Avellino

He is a proud Pakistani-born Muslim now living in Australia for the past 11 years.

“I am extremely proud and humbled to have been recognised by this prestigious award… It’s not only a recognition for me personally but also a recognition for all International students as it shows if you work hard you will be recognised”, Kashif said talking to Bharat Times.

Working in a range of jobs from security to pizza delivery to taxi driving, while an international student, Kashif’s community development initiative started with a part-time stint at Cricket Victoria in 2010.

“This partnership exposed me to Essendon FC and in 2011 I started working for the football club.

“I always understood the power that AFL has in this country but it was only when I started at Essendon that I realised the full potential… in terms of community development and empowerment”.

Moving on to AFL and AFL Victoria for “4 amazing years”, Kashif co-ordinated and oversaw the initiation of many multicultural programs within AFL fold, including the AFL Multicultural Community Ambassador Program.

Currently, as part of Western Bulldogs executive leadership team, Kashif works with the community across three streams – “Health and Wellbeing, Youth Leadership and Community Empowerment.

“While all of our programs cater to all Australians we also have a very strong focus on multicultural communities.

“We have just won a premiership and we are keen to work with the community… as we realise how much this game meant to our community…” Kashif said.

He is also well known as founder of Pakistan Shaheens, the first official footy team of Pakistan to have played in AFL International Cup in 2014.

Kashif is an avid fan of the Pakistani cricket team. “As a Pakistani, I always loved cricket…”

He is a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) from Swinburne University of Technology and also enrolled for MBA at Victoria University in 2011. He will be officially graduating next month.

Kashif has earlier received “Inspiring Youth” Community Award – 2012 initiated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence – 2011 for Service Delivery to Multicultural Victoria.

Balaji Trichy Narayanswamy, adjudged as International Student of the Year; is studying for a Doctor of Philosophy at Deakin University, Geelong.

Balaji Trichy Narayanaswamy, receiving his International Student of the Year award
Balaji Trichy Narayanaswamy, receiving his International Student of the Year award @Avellino

He was awarded a postgraduate Research Scholarship at Deakin University and has been nominated for two of the University’s Institute for Frontier Metals (IFM) annual awards.

He also mentors students at Deakin and is an International Orientation Coordinator supporting new international students.

Balaji also has a Masters in Engineering in Industrial Metallurgy.

He engages in community roles including the ‘Good Start Breakfast Club’ for the Australian Red Cross, and as a learning support volunteer with EdConnect Asutralia.

Both Kashif and Balaji are inaugural winners of the Awards – International Alumnus of the Year and International Student of the Year (Regional), introduced as new categories for the first time this year.

This year’s student winners were awarded up to $10,000 to go towards their studies at one of Victoria’s educational institutions.

Student winners also go on to become ambassadors for the Victorian Government’s Study Melbourne initiative, which promotes the state’s leading education capabilities to the world.

Mr Dalidakis said that these outstanding students and institutions make up Victoria’s thriving international education sector.

As Victoria’s largest service based export, the sector reached a record high contributing of $5.8 billion to the state’s economy in 2015 and now supports more than 30,000 jobs across the state.

@ RD

feature image: Kashif Bouns at the Whitten Oval in Footscray

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