Student of the year

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International PhD student wins award for contributions to campus life and the Australian community

Saba Nabi was recently named International Student of the Year in the Higher Education category at the 2014 NSW International Student Awards. She was recognised for her contributions to the community and her role as a student leader at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Wagga Wagga, where she is undertaking a PhD in Biomedical Science.

Saba said she was “on cloud nine” when she received the news about her nomination.

“My family, especially my parents, were all excited to learn about my nomination.”

Actually winning the award, however, was a new level of excitement.
“It was awesome,” said a beaming Saba. “I seriously didn’t realise at first instance that I had won. I must say all the other finalists were great in themselves and truly well deserving.”

Saba was presented with her award by NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Regional Development John Barilaro MP at a special ceremony held in Sydney.

“I am happy that I live in a regional location which is full of opportunities, especially engaging a lot with the local community,” Saba said.

“It’s true that Wagga Wagga is my soul and Charles Sturt University is the heart of my body.”

So, what made CSU stand out to Saba over other Australian universities?

“Wagga Wagga is a regional city. Its landscape, flora, fauna and greenery appealed to us at the first instance. Moreover CSU has all the facilities and expertise, which we need to complete our research. When you have the potential and the eagerness to excel, you utilise your University to the fullest extent,” she explained.

Originally from Patna, India, Saba and her family decided to move to Australia to further her husband’s education in 2011.

“It was because of my husband’s ambition to pursue his dream of doing a PhD overseas, that my family and I left India and moved to Australia,” Saba said.

She added that she also had a childhood dream of completing a PhD, although she never really understood the meaning of it.

“All I knew was that it was the highest degree one could achieve, and I wanted to achieve it.”

In 2012, Saba became the first international student to be elected to the CSU Council. She was also the postgraduate representative for the University’s Faculty of Science Board, and is President of the International Student’s Club, Secretary of the Islamic Students’ Association and is heavily involved in many other campus endeavours.

Saba is also a keen contributor to the wider community, being part of local groups such as Cancer Council Wagga Wagga, Multicultural Council of Wagga Wagga, and Wagga Wagga City Council.

“Saba truly deserves this International Student Award for her many contributions to Charles Sturt University and the city of Wagga Wagga,” said Student Liaison Officer at CSU, Jacqui Blomfield.

“She has managed to draw together Charles Sturt University and the wider community with international students, and has worked collaboratively to raise the profile of international students at Charles Sturt University”.

“Saba is a wonderful advocate for Charles Sturt University and regional Australia,” said Saba’s PhD co-supervisor and pharmacy program leader, George John.

“Saba’s win is an outstanding achievement for a student who keeps on giving to Charles Sturt University and the local community through a variety of ways.”

Saba has a Bachelor in Pharmacy and an MBA in pharmaceutical administration from Jamia Hamdard University in New Delhi, and would love to work in the Australian pharmaceutical industry when she finishes her studies.

“I love engaging with the wider community and get a lot of inner satisfaction and enthusiasm to work more and more in a fruitful way,” she said. “I enjoy campus life because I had stayed for six years in a hostel at Jamia Hamdard in India.”

According to Saba, government organisations in Wagga Wagga are happy to work with international students and are always friendly and supportive.

“Getting involved with community groups gives you a family and a sense that you are also a part of the wider community,” she said.

Saba encourages international students to get more involved in campus and community life.

“Engage with your community, have a love for your passion but never keep aside your studies as you are here because of your academic performance. You should never neglect your studies,” she advised, adding that international students should not fear that English is not their first language.

“I am sure once you explore Australia, you will fall in love with its beautiful landscape and exotic species. It’s okay if you don’t understand their jokes or slang, but have faith in yourself and don’t ever change for the sake of others. Be yourself and Australia will embrace you as you are.”

The NSW International Student Awards are organised by StudyNSW and the NSW Government, recognising outstanding contributions by international students to the community.





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