STEM Sisters and Institute of Health and Nursing Australia winners at the Victorian Premier’s Awards

Dr Ruwangi Fernando of STEM Sisters and Bijo Kunnumpurath of IHNA received the awards for best Student Experience and Private Education and Training respectively.

Non-profit organisation STEM Sisters won the Student Experience award at the Victorian International Education Awards 2021-22.

STEM Sisters, founded in 2017, is home to a diverse group who are deeply committed to an intersectional approach to empowering women of colour in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields (STEM). Their website observes:

“Gender Bias is a massive contributor to the issues women face in trying to secure a STEM job. Additionally, racial bias plays an equally trying role for people of colour in Australia. The difficulty is elevated with the combination of the two, therefore Women of Colour in STEM need more support.”

Dr Ruwangi Fernando, the Founder and Director of STEM Sisters, has won many awards for her academic and professional contributions to the field of IT technologies. With over 16 years of experience, she aims to help culturally and linguistically diverse women in STEM through a range of initiatives.

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In a statement on LinkedIn, Dr Fernando said:

“The most profound recognition goes to the volunteers, ambassadors, advisory panel members and many other allies and supporters who have supported STEM Sisters in achieving phenomenal success since its inception in 2017.”

Under Dr Fernando’s leadership and guidance, STEM Sisters which has around 100 volunteers and a network of over 700 women runs nine structured programs addressing key challenges for women of colour in the field of STEM. 

The Institute of Health and Nursing Australia (IHNA) won the Private Education and Training award.

Bijo Kunnumpurath who is the Founder and Acting Chief Executive Officer of IHNA received the award. In a statement on LinkedIn, he said:

“We at IHNA are humbled by the Victorian Premiers’ high commendation of the Institute of Health and Nursing Australia as International Education Provider for 2021 and 2022. Thank you everyone for the support and trust in IHNA to be awarded as the International Education Provider of 2021 and 2022.”

Bijo has a Master’s in Business Administration and is a qualified Mechanical Engineer. He oversees and manages the operational activities, systems, and policy implementation of the organisation. 

Image source: Bijo Kunnumpurath (LinkedIn)

Under his leadership, IHNA provides career-focused and innovative learning through its industry and workforce-focused training programs. These include using virtual reality and reflecting hands-on needs of the healthcare industry.

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In early 2022, IHNA also started an international campus in Cochin, India, as part of a strategy to improve international students’ experiences and open new pathways to study in Australia.

Image source: Gonul Serbest (LinkedIn)

Victorian Premier’s international student awards recognise and showcase exceptional Victorian international students and alumni who champion international education in Victoria and across the globe.

Gonul Serbest, Chief Executive Officer of Global Victoria, congratulated all the finalists and winners in her LinkedIn post:

“So wonderful to come back together for the Victorian International Education Awards and recognise and celebrate excellence amongst Victoria’s international students and sector. A great opportunity to shine light on their inspiring contributions to our community and academic performance and leadership. A huge congrats to all our finalists and winners.”

These awards are an initiative of the Victorian Government to celebrate outstanding international students and education providers in Victoria. Further, these awards recognise the Victorian Government’s commitment to the education sector and leadership in our community.