2021 International Student of the Year

James came to Australia with a dream of transforming the disability sector in Kenya. And throughout his studies, James remained focused on his academic goals.

2021 International Student of the Year Winner, James Karanja
Last Updated Wednesday 20th March, 2024

He has also created opportunities for students from diverse cultural backgrounds to come together, make new friends and connect. James’ steadfast determination to make a difference to people living with disabilities back home so impressed our judges, they’ve named him the 2021 winner of the International Student of the Year.

Winner: James Karanja from Kenya

Studying: Master of Disability Policy and Practice at Flinders University

James Karanja came to Adelaide to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities back in Kenya. And throughout his studies, he’s worked hard to prepare himself to achieve this goal. James carefully selected a coursework program that best addresses the needs of the disability sector, studying subjects that would have the most significant impact on people in Kenya.

With a strong belief that people with disabilities can be part of the social and economic development of their communities, James is working to increase participation in meaningful employment. His coursework project about microenterprise for people with disabilities in South Australia allowed James to gain in-depth knowledge on this employment pathway. He says microenterprises can give people living with disabilities employment opportunities that match their personal skills, passion, strengths and situations.

“Being recognised for the award gives me the drive to take a leading role in promoting social inclusion and active participation of people with disability in the labour markets,” said James.

“The award constantly reminds me of the disability slogan "Nothing for us without us". None of the disability programs that I initiate in Kenya will fail to include the feelings, aspirations and the voice of people with disabilities.”

James’ career objective is to support the social inclusion, participation and contribution of people with disabilities. He aims to help young people with disabilities establish microenterprises to engage meaningfully in work and independent living. James has learnt about disability issues and practices from a global perspective and upon his return to Kenya is already putting theory into practice by designing person-centred and culturally sensitive disability services.

James is also the winner of the 2021 Academic Excellence: Postgraduate (Coursework) Award. 

Watch James' acceptance speech below:

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