2019 Academic Excellence: Postgraduate (Coursework) Awards

From international development to managing water resources to improving rural health, the winners in the 2019 postgraduate coursework category are using their skills to improve the lives of other people, especially those who are most vulnerable. We invited them to share their stories.

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Winner: Alessandro Sereni from Italy

Studying: Master of International Development at Flinders University

With a desire to learn and a purpose to help, Alessandro Sereni has travelled the world building knowledge and skills that will help him achieve his goal to help the world’s most vulnerable people. By achieving exceptional academic results and pursing many extracurricular activities to develop his professional experience, Alessandro is well on his way to making the difference he desires to see in this world.

Tell us about your motto, ‘Learn as much as you can about as much as you can’. 

My personal motto has guided me to pursue specialist knowledge in a variety of disciplines like environmental studies, international relations, gender studies and more. It’s also why I’ve taken on additional online extracurricular courses and programs to enhance my academic and professional skills. Throughout my travels and studies, I’ve also learnt several languages, including English, French, Spanish, Indonesian and Chinese. I’m studying Japanese at the moment.

What makes you passionate about international development?

My parents brought me up to look out for the person next to you. I think we all have a responsibility to help people in need and to work towards a sustainable and equitable future for everyone. I feel there is an urgent call for people to make the needs of the world’s underprivileged a top priority.  I chose to study international development because it gives me access to knowledge and experiences that are crucial for me to have a positive impact on our world. This field of study will enable me to do just that.

How do you enhance your knowledge outside the classroom?

I’ve undertaken many extracurricular activities to build my professional skills and experience. This year, as a participant in the ACICIS Development Studies Professional Practicum, I went to Indonesia for a four-week professional placement to take part in seminars, workshops and field trips on local development issues. I also spent a month as an intern with PLAN International Indonesia. As a result of my extracurricular experiences, I’ve been awarded the university’s Horizon Platinum Professional Development Award and have greatly enhanced my professional profile.

Alessandro was also a dual winner  of the 2019 International Student of the Year Award.


Highly Commended: Milan Paudel from Nepal

Studying: Master of Engineering (Water Resources Management) at the University of South Australia

Milan Paudel came to Adelaide to enhance his skills and knowledge in his field of water resources management. But he’s also helping local Barossa farmers as well. Along with his classmates, he has developed a climate change adaptation plan to help growers maintain long-term water security and use of recycled water in the region. Milan says his studies are aligned with his work back in Nepal with similarities between many of the climate and water issues being faced. He says the Australian techniques and practices he is learning will help him in his work at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation at home.

While Milan works hard on his studies, achieving high distinctions in all his courses, he is also contributing to the social fabric of his university by helping to establish a Nepalese student club at his Mawson Lakes campus. And when he can, he loves to visit the beaches of the south coast. “I am interested in beach life because we don’t have this in Nepal”.


Highly Commended: Keren Wu from China

Studying: Bachelor of Clinical Sciences, Doctor of Medicine at Flinders University

After completing high school at Glenunga International High School, Keren chose to stay in Adelaide to pursue her degree in medicine. Through her studies, Keren has developed a keen interest in rural and remote medicine and is a member of the Flinders University Rural Health Society. In 2016, she was awarded a Flinders Summer Research Award which allowed her to work with her supervisor in the Northern Territory. Keren chose another rural location in 2019 with a year-long placement in Mount Gambier where she’s working in a community practice and contributing to an audit of the local paediatric unit.  Her next placement will be a six-week stay at Addenbrooke’s Hospital through the elective program at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

Keren says one of the things she is most proud of is her contribution to the Point Pearce Aboriginal Community Engagement Program. The program aims to encourage more aboriginal students into medicine and health science studies. After she graduates, Keren says she’d like to be involved in providing high-quality healthcare, particularly to rural and aboriginal patients.

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