UP Education Foundation Studies students, Ronel Giam and Nehara Pandey, from Victoria University of Wellington took home the top honours at the 2021 Wellington International Student Excellence Awards held on 9 November at the Opera House in Wellington City, New Zealand.
UP Education is driven to shape the changemakers of tomorrow, continuing to support international students to pursue tertiary education at New Zealand’s top universities.
Bryce Pedersen, Head of College at Victoria University of Wellington Foundation Studies says: “With a sense of purpose and pride in their education with us, Ronel and Nehara are a fantastic example of the great value international students add to New Zealand communities.”
“UP Education international students not only learn how to transition into New Zealand university education, they also learn how to thrive in leadership roles which contribute to the global talent pool.”
“Our aim is to support international students to really believe in their capabilities and become the changemakers of tomorrow.”
Online Community Award
Showcasing the commitment of UP Education’s international students to education excellence and civic participation, Ronel Giam, award winner of the Online Community Award, is driven to improve corporate social responsibility efforts while completing his UP Education university entrance programme.
In January 2020, Ronel started his studies with Victoria University of Wellington based in New Zealand, but border restrictions meant he completed the UP Education programme online from Singapore.
As well as adapting to the five-hour time difference to successfully finish his course, Ronel also helped his fellow students in a mentoring role and translated for mandarin-speakers to succeed in their studies.
“I place a huge importance on giving back and helping others as it is part of my core values.”
A strong self-starter with a keen interest to make the world a better place, Ronel believes organisations should strive to achieve social and environmental objectives beyond mere business goals.
“As our world works towards carbon neutrality goals, climate taxonomy and environmental conservation have become extremely important job sectors.”
Ronel says a strong emphasis on academic writing at UP Education enabled him to express his thoughts coherently – setting him up for study at New Zealand’s top universities to become a step closer to his dream career.
“I aspire to become a geographer or a spatial analyst to shape an economically and environmentally sustainable living for future generations.”
Nehara received the Overall Excellence Award for her extraordinary achievements in education and beyond. She too is passionate about creating positive environmental change.
Nehara is the youngest climate correspondent for the Youth Ki Awaaz (Voice of the Youth) and was the recipient of the 2019 Sanctuary Nature Foundation’s Young Naturalist Award.
Nehara’s Foundation Studies with UP Education at Victoria University of Wellington has enabled her to commence a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and environmental studies.
Born in Goa, India, her passion for the ocean has led her to study marine biology in New Zealand.
Border closures meant Nehara had to complete her studies online from her hometown. Due to power outages, she would often go to her neighbour’s house to access internet, meet assignment deadlines and attend classes.
Proudly neurodiverse, Nehara is driven to achieve academically and in all areas of her life. At only 19 years old, she is a published writer and blogger.
“There is a misconception that neurodiverse students cannot learn. Although we may require differentiated teaching instruction, this does not mean we are incapable of learning and succeeding,” says Nehara.
“UP Education’s pedagogy allowed me to think and express myself creatively. Group work brought out my skills in leadership and mentorship, while also teaching me a lot about New Zealand culture.”
“There’s an obligation for education to stay globally engaged, to exchange ideas, to exchange best practice and give our students the strongest opportunity they can to really broaden their skills and cultural competence,” says Bryce.
“It is clear international education keeps Aoteroa connected. Our achievements at the Wellington International Student Excellence Awards show our commitment to continued investment in better outcomes for international students in New Zealand.”
*The annual Wellington International Student Excellence Awards is held by WellingtonNZ to recognise high-achieving international students in the Wellington region who excel academically, in the arts, sport, community or online.