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2020 Academic Excellence: Undergraduate Awards

Both students recognised in this year’s undergraduate category have worked hard to maintain excellent academic results, pursued their interests both inside and outside of the classroom, and have discovered new interests and ways to view the world. They have big ambitions and know their time studying in Adelaide has set them on the path to realising them.

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Winner: Thi Hoang from Vietnam

Studying: Bachelor of Medical Science at the University of South Australia

With a teenage interest in neurology, Thi enrolled to study medical science in Adelaide where she’s developed a passion for research and an ambition to become a cancer scientist. She actively participates in opportunities such as volunteering in research projects at her university, undertaking practical placements and participating in the inaugural Amgen Scholars Program. Through this, Thi is developing the laboratory skills she needs to pursue her dreams of postgraduate research studies and a life dedicated to medical research and a healthier world.

How did you develop your interest in studying medical science?

As a teenager, I was interested in biology and had a curiosity about neurology at school. I used to read a lot and found myself engrossed in neuroscience books. I started harbouring a dream of becoming a neurologist and knew I wanted to pursue my interest further into higher education.

How has studying in Adelaide helped you realise your future career aspirations?

Throughout my degree, I’ve been captivated by the complex biological process that gives cell functions, sustains life and gives rise to disease. Doing my degree has exposed me to a lot of skills and knowledge from working in the lab, as it’s quite a research-focused degree. This semester I’m doing a placement in a cancer research lab. My study has nurtured in me a strong love for research, and I’m interested in becoming a cancer research scientist who makes breakthroughs that save lives.

Tell us about your involvement with the Mozzie Monitor project

During my first year, I was interested in doing a research project to gain work experience. I volunteered in a project that investigated the impact of climate change on mosquitos. As part of that, we had the Mozzie Monitor project where we had citizen scientists across the state capture mosquitos in specialised buckets so experts could analyse them. Through this project, I was able to expand my connections and further develop my laboratory skills.

How did you cope with studying during the COVID-19 lockdown, particularly studying in such a practical field?

At first, I didn’t like the idea of not having practicals, and I was very sad not being able to see my friends. However, our teachers did a great job to modify our practicals by creating virtual workshops where we could use virtual lab books to go into detail about the theory of the experiment, and then used software to analyse the data.

How has your scholarship helped you achieve your study dreams?

I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend university, which has been made possible by the generous Vice Chancellor’s International Excellence Scholarship. I also received a grant for international students and the Australasian Society for Immunology prize for attaining the highest mark in my second-year immunology course. I think if I hadn’t gotten a scholarship, I wouldn’t be here at all. I’m humbled by these achievements, and my gratitude and passion are what keeps pushing me forward.


Highly Commended: Mey Wong from Malaysia

Studying: Bachelor of Arts – Enhanced Program for High Achievers at Flinders University

Mey says her arts program at Flinders University has allowed her to explore interests in English, philosophy, geography and environmental studies. She believes in the power of words to move hearts and change minds and hopes to pursue a career in the field of environmental sustainability. Throughout her studies, Mey has maintained excellent academic results, never receiving a grade below a distinction. She’s been able to explore the world through a semester exchange program to Hiroshima University in Japan. And Mey has given back to her community via various volunteering activities including being the president of the Flinders University Lions Club. Mey has also discovered a keen interest in astronomy, something she previously dismissed due to light pollution and weather conditions at home in Kuala Lumpur.

For Mey, studying in Adelaide has helped her to mature through learning about the world and herself. She’s developed a better understanding of complex political and environmental issues. “By meeting different people in various contexts, I learned diverse ways of being and seeing the world. This not only fostered a necessary holistic and global world view but also opened new possibilities and paths in my career aspirations.”

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