Indian international student Sarbjeet Singh, a stormwater engineer, and Nepali international student Abhishek Kansakar, management consultant and sustainable transport entrepreneur, have won the Victoria’s prestigious International Student of the Year and International Alumnus of the Year awards 2023.
Sarbjeet Singh has won the International Student of the Year – Regional and the prestigious Premier’s Award – International Student of the Year 2023.
Sarbjeet’s journey began in Chandigarh, India, where his passion for civil engineering ignited at age 13 during annual summer projects building houses with a friend. Earning a scholarship led him to Deakin University in Geelong, a town reminiscent of his home in India.
‘Geelong is very similar to Chandigarh – it’s a smaller town and very beautiful. After coming to Geelong I thought, ‘am I back home?’’
Despite this, the transition from living in India to Australia posed challenges.
‘Coming from a small town to a country where the people don’t speak your language and then right after arriving going into lock down, it was quite overwhelming,’ he said.
‘But this was actually a big turning point for me.’
‘It gave me time to reflect, allowed me to think about what I really want to do and helped me realise a few things about myself.’
Sarbjeet is a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (HONOURS) from Deakin University. He is a dedicated advocate for community engagement and leadership and has left a lasting impact on both local and global communities.
This is highlighted by his election to ‘Campus Coordinator’ for Deakin University Student Association. In this role, he organised inclusive events, such as Pride Week Celebrations, Harmony Week, and cultural festivals. His dedication to community service and outstanding efforts have also been recognised by Geelong City Council’s Geelong Youth Award in 2023.
Sarbjeet’s leadership journey began in 2020 during his higher education years when his passion for leadership was ignited. He established study support groups and became a ‘Student Mentor’ and ‘Success Coach’, showcasing his commitment to mentorship.
Drawing on his own background, he established a study support group for international students to ease the transition to Australian university life.
‘I used my own experiences and mistakes I’ve made along the way to tailor the support groups to suit international students and help them navigate the new period of their lives with tips and tricks,’ he said.
Now employed as a stormwater engineer at the City of Greater Geelong, Sarbjeet is using his education to help build flood-resilient communities and incorporate sustainability into engineering projects.
‘I love working for the community. It’s great to work somewhere that is trying to address the issues of climate change and build a flood resilient city.’
Serving as a Deakin University Ambassador, a Study Geelong ambassador and an Engineers Australia ambassador highlights his dedication to promoting education and professional development in Victoria.
Beyond academia, Sarbjeet wholly embraces Victoria’s diverse cultural tapestry, scenic landscapes, and vibrant city life.
Abhishek Kansakar has been announced as Victoria’s International Alumnus of the Year award for 2023.
Abhishek is a first class honours Master of Finance degree and a Deputy Deans award from Business & Economics at the University of Melbourne.
In 2016, Abhishek moved from Nepal to study in Melbourne, drawn by the city’s global education reputation and inclusive environment. It became not just a destination for learning but a canvas for personal growth and innovation.
‘Meeting individuals from various backgrounds allowed me to broaden my perspective, appreciate different cultures, and form lasting international friendships,’ said Abhishek.
Navigating a new cultural landscape, Abhishek credits this inclusivity that defines Australian society and noticed similarities in his own culture.
‘I’ve always felt that Victoria is my home,’ he said.
‘Everyone I’ve met in Victoria is friendly and approachable, making integration into the community easy.’
After winning the 2018 UniMelb Start-up Pitch Competition, Abhishek founded Electrify Infinite, an application that aims to simplify access to electric vehicle (EV) charger stations.
‘The inspiration behind Electrify Infinite is deeply rooted in my early experiences in Nepal, particularly during a time of civil unrest when essential resources like food and electricity were scarce.’
‘These firsthand experiences have been the driving force behind my unwavering commitment to sustainability.’
His dedication to accelerating the transition to net-zero emissions and his personal interests in tech and all things cars and motorbikes have converged to create ‘a cause larger than myself’.
As a first-generation university attendee and entrepreneur, his advice for future international students is rooted in self-belief.
‘Embrace diversity, perspective, and cultural insights as sources of strength,’ he said.
‘Embrace the courage to try new things, and above all, cultivate a love for learning to fuel your curiosity. Find joy in the entire process, appreciating both triumphs and challenges.’
Abhishek has had an impressive trajectory as an international student and now alumni in Melbourne. He moved to Australia at 17 to study a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He was awarded several scholarships, including the Tritecha Tangmathitham, and became the first Nepalese-born student to receive this award. He continued to pursue a Master of Finance degree, graduating with first class honours before being selected into the graduate program at FTI Consulting.
After winning the 2018 UniMelb Start-up Pitch Competition, Abhishek founded Electrify Infinite, an SaaS-based B2C application that aims to simplify access to electric vehicle (EV) charger stations, promoting EV adoption and contributing to Victoria’s sustainable transportation objectives. Recognized by the Study Melbourne Future Founders Venture Scholarship, Abhishek secured $10,000 in equity-free seed funding for his venture.
As a first-generation university attendee, Abishek never thought of being an international student as a limitation but as a superpower. Abhishek advocates for Victoria’s blend of education, culture, lifestyle, and opportunities and invites aspiring students to experience the magic of the state.
The Victorian International Education Awards recognise and showcase the exceptional Victorian international students and alumni in our community, education providers and industry who champion international education in Victoria and across the globe.
Award winners in each student category, with the exception of the International Alumnus of the Year, will be awarded $6,000 each to support their studies. All finalists and winners will receive a certificate of recognition. The recipient of the ‘Premier’s Award – International Student of the Year’ will receive an additional $10,000 to support their studies.