Kiesha Lara Venga (Malaysia)

Kiesha Lara Venga is a recipient of the JCU Vice Chancellor’s International Student Scholarship. These prestigious Scholarships recognise students who have achieved academic and personal excellence and demonstrate a commitment to JCU’s values.

“Obtaining a scholarship means so much to me because my family has always sacrificed a lot for me to be able to have these incredible study opportunities. I just remember reading the email and crying and screaming in excitement. I am so passionate about marine sciences and all my previous hard work has now paid off.”

Why did you choose to study at JCU?

“We have a lot of reefs back home in Malaysia and my family loves diving, especially my dad. My parents have travelled all around the world exploring reefs, and they even got married underwater. I remember I did not like diving when I first tried it. It felt very messy and scary, but my dad and I watched this documentary called Blue Planet BBC with David Attenborough and I fell in love. I wanted to be part of this world, explore nature and share these experiences with other people.

When I was researching where to study in Australia, I discovered the Bachelor of Marine Science at JCU was one of the best courses in the world. I also spoke with a former teacher about environmental science in general and he recommended JCU.”

What has been a highlight of your time at JCU so far?

“I think it’s a lot of the small things, like walking around campus during the sunset when the breeze is blowing and you have just made a new friend and having this conversation that’s flowing. If you just step back, you can appreciate all these little moments and all the things you have worked hard to achieve beforehand. Being on campus is very peaceful and it’s exactly where I am supposed to be.

Magnetic Island was also an awesome experience. We were near the edge of the water and one of my friends looked down and noticed two baby black-tip sharks swimming around. It was a moment of me realising that I was living out my dream. It’s the place I’ve always wanted to be, and having all this beautiful wildlife around me is surreal.”


Kiesha Lara Venga with JCU's Vice Chancellor Professor Simon Biggs.

What are your career aspirations?

“I have always been spilt between if I want to go into research and complete a master's program then a PhD, or pursue conservation, as I feel like a lot of my skill sets lie in this area.

Hopefully, using the scientific theories I learn in my Bachelor of Marine Science, I can make information more accessible to the public. If the general population doesn’t understand the problems in conservation or isn’t even aware of them, you’re not going to be able to fix these issues.”

What is your advice for prospective international students?

“Soak in the different experiences, the people, the cultures, as much of that as you can. Studying internationally, you will have some of the greatest experiences of your life and I have no doubt this will be one of the greatest life experiences I have ever had. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and you will find out that other people are in the same boat and you can bond over those shared experiences.”