Featured News Gala celebrates international students

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Mon, 22 Nov 2021

Gala celebrates international students

Alt text Gala Photo
Christopher MacDonald, Thibault Eddie, Lucas Lutzenkirchen, Deborah Burn and Nnamdi Mgbemena proudly displaying their awards they received at the JCU International Gala. PICTURE: Roslyn Budd

The invaluable contribution made by James Cook University’s international students has been celebrated at an inaugural ball held in Townsville.

The JCU Allianz Care Australia International Gala and Awards Night recognised students who had gone above and beyond in the categories of Inspirational Leader, Spirit of Australia, JCU International Student of the Year (Undergraduate), JCU International Student of the Year (Postgraduate), Community Engagement and JCU Student Cultural Group of the Year.

PhD student Nnamdi Chidiebere Mgbemena, from Nigeria, said it was surreal to win the International Postgraduate Student of the Year award, as he prepares to finish his studies after three-and-a-half years.

“I have always been myself and adapted what my late mother taught me. She said, ‘Don’t just go somewhere abroad to get a degree. Allow the university to go through you while you go through the university, making sure to leave a positive mark and integrate into the community, which I believe I have done here in Townsville,” he said.

Lucas Lutzenkirchen, originally from Germany, won the International Undergraduate Student of the Year for his ongoing contributions towards the international community.

“All of us had the same destiny during COVID of not being able to go home for a while and making the most of where we were,” he said.

“I think that just brought international students closer, and through my own experiences, hopefully I will be able to make it easier for new students as a mentor.”

JCU International Director Clare Magee said the awards demonstrated the immeasurable impact international students have across the North Queensland community.

“The international student community is immensely important to JCU. They add a rich diversity of experience and thought to our classes, which enriches teaching and learning experiences for all staff and students,” she said.

“They bring great friendships and opportunity as they encourage us to explore the world with them and help us build global networks. International students are highly involved in student and community activities and run a range of student clubs and societies that host fantastic inclusive events to share dance, music and culture.”

Ms Magee acknowledged JCU International Student Support Manager Louise Myers, who first proposed the idea of the Gala and Awards Night.

“Like all great ideas, it snowballed and got bigger and bigger. We decided we needed a huge celebration to really recognise our international students collectively as well as some individual recognition of those who’ve made a really positive difference to others,” Ms Magee said.

According to the 2021 International Student Barometer Survey, 91 per cent of students were either satisfied or very satisfied with their overall learning experience at JCU.

Feedback taken from students in the survey pointed to JCU having “excellent teaching and research facilities providing world-class education”, and offering many courses recognised worldwide for excellence including marine biology, aquaculture and tourism.

Students also commented that they felt “welcomed as an international student, appreciated the regular social activities on offer and rated the learning experience as “incredibly outstanding”.

JCU Allianz Care Australia International Gala and Awards Night recipients

Community Engagement - Thibault Eddie (Madagascar)

Inspirational Leader - Deborah Burn (United Kingdom)

Spirit of Australia - Christopher MacDonald (Canada)

International Student of the Year (Undergraduate) - Lucas Lutzenkirchen (Germany)

International Student of the Year (Postgraduate) - Nnamdi Mgbemena (Nigeria)

Student Group of the Year - Latin American Student Association


Media enquiries: michael.serenc@jcu.edu.au