The 2023 Mayor’s Student Ambassadors are from 14 countries, representing 10 Gold Coast institutions in what is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Over the year the Ambassadors will encounter a range of activities which will see them grow academically, personally and professionally within a program that’s designed to build a deeper understanding of themselves, their fellow students and the wider Gold Coast community.
What does it take to become a Mayor’s Student Ambassador? Read on to discover what makes the 2023 contingent such an exceptional group of young people and remember, if you’d like to share their journey with them, just follow their amazing experiences on social media. You'll find links to their social accounts within each bio.
Lydia Kek (Singapore)
Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics, Griffith University.
I'm from Singapore where diverse cultures are the norm and our daily conversations are a mixture of multiple languages. No matter what your background is, you understand each other. We grow up respecting and understanding each other’s cultures. It gives a real appreciation for the city's diverse cultural landscape and food. I mean, where else can you find Chinese, Malays, Indian, and Western cultures all living and working together in perfect harmony? It's like a real-life version of the Marvel film "The Avengers," but with food, fashion and festivals!
I have this crazy dream of becoming a dietitian and changing people’s lives through the power of food and nutrition. I want to debunk the myth that living a healthy lifestyle can only be achieved through boring and tedious methods. I wish to learn and show the world that with passion, a little creativity and knowledge, everyone can enjoy a healthy life that fits their unique needs and preferences.
This year I set myself a challenge to be present and get a better understanding of the Gold Coast, from engaging more with our community to learning how the government works. Thankfully, the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program provides me with the opportunity to do that and learn more than I could ever imagine. There is no other program that showcases how amazing the Gold Coast is while gaining behind-the-scenes experiences and building my professional networks. Being part of something this big is such a life-turning moment. Hearing previous Mayor’s Student Ambassadors talk their first-hand experiences reaffirmed my desire to want to be part of the program.
Alessandra Santos (Brazil)
Master of Business Administration, Bond University
I grew up in Belo Horizonte, a city surrounded by beautiful mountains. My family and I would often spend our weekends on a nearby farm where we enjoyed outdoor activities such as horseback riding and hiking. This upbringing instilled in me a love for nature and a deep appreciation for the outdoors.
When I first came to Australia in 2015 I shared a house in Perth with an Australian who initially struggled to understand me due to our language differences. Despite this, she saw the good in me and we became close friends. This experience taught me the power of understanding and accepting others, regardless of background or life experience.
I love the friendly and optimistic community on the Gold Coast, as well as the feeling of always being on vacation in places like Surfers Paradise. In addition, the Gold Coast offers a perfect blend of city life and natural beauty.
As a Mayor's Student Ambassador I hope to spread the word about the many benefits of studying and living on the Gold Coast while encouraging and supporting other students in their journeys, particularly those from abroad. My personal goals include building a strong network of connections in the Gold Coast, both among the other Ambassadors, as well as professionals in the community. I also hope to develop my English communication skills and contribute to the promotion of the city as a great place to live and study.
Binqiang (Johnny) Zhang (China)
Master of Social Work, Southern Cross University
Growing up in a small historic village surrounded by hills and rice fields, which happens to be a world heritage site named Fujian Tulou, provided me with a unique and enriching experience. As a child, I enjoyed going for hikes and exploring the fields with my neighbours. Our village is predominantly made up of Hakka Chinese, who rely on farming as their main source of livelihood. We also took great pride in celebrating our traditions, festivals and customs.
My passion for social science has always been a driving force for me, and pursuing this degree feels like the perfect fit. As a social worker I will have the opportunity to work with vulnerable and marginalized populations, providing them with the necessary support to overcome obstacles and attain their goals. This career path is not only fulfilling and rewarding, but also allows me to engage in self-reflection and recognise my own vulnerabilities while building resilience.
Apart from the pleasant climate, the Gold Coast is also home to world-class educational institutions, allowing me to receive a top-quality education while enjoying the amazing lifestyle here. I am excited about this incredible chance to discover more about myself and the Gold Coast through the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program. Not only will I have the opportunity to meet students from diverse backgrounds, but this experience will help me grow both personally and professionally. I’m enthusiastic about forging stronger ties with my local community and making a positive impact on this city while contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Charlotte Gibbs (Australia)
Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Bond University
I’ve lived in Brisbane, a rural property in northern NSW and Melbourne, but it’s the Gold Coast where I feel most at home. I began tertiary studies in Melbourne in 2022 and became involved in clubs and sports but I still felt like something was lacking. There was a missing piece of my puzzle, and it was only after visiting Bond University at the end of last year that I knew the Gold Coast was a place I could call home. I’m so glad I made the decision to move here as there is something about studying on the Gold Coast that just feels right, a feeling I had not experienced studying in Melbourne. I love studying and living on campus at Bond University. There are many opportunities available and the supportive community makes it easy to settle in and make friends, especially for interstate and international students who are far from home.
Since moving here I’ve fallen in love with the local community, the lifestyle, the friendly people and the warm weather. I’ve become passionate about learning and living on the Gold Coast and I hope to promote all the city has to offer to other students. The student community is such a vibrant and valuable aspect of our community and I’m keen to meet new people from all around the world who also study and live on the Gold Coast. In sharing my journey of why I moved to this city I hope to help other students who might also be considering moving here as well.
I wanted to become a Mayor’s Student Ambassador to promote all the amazing opportunities the Gold Coast has to offer and represent the student community, whilst preserving the city’s history and environment. By participating in this program I hope to widen my comfort zone and grow my professional leadership skills so that I can contribute to the wellbeing of students and the wider Gold Coast community.
Anna Criaco (Italy)
Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, Imagine Education
I come from the south of Italy in Calabria from a small town by the beach but moved to the northwest of Italy, in Genova, when I was nine. Genova is a city on the coast and I love it with my whole heart. I have always been surrounded by art and history and of course the sea, those are the three things that will be part of my soul forever. Growing up within a southern family in a northern city was really interesting and it allowed me to see things from different perspectives. Good food, great people and lots of love, that’s the best part of growing up in Italy!
In my late teens I was diagnosed with celiac disease and looking back it was something that changed me. A lot and people still find it ironic that I am Italian and can’t eat traditional bread and pasta! But from that diagnosis I learnt so much about myself and my body, creating an awareness that made me more attentive to others’ needs while advocating for inclusivity in every aspect of life.
I fell in love with the Gold Coast while holidaying and could totally see myself living here. There’s a perfect balance between working, studying here while enjoying the hundreds of opportunities the city offers. I enjoy being in nature and I am not a big fan of chaotic cities, but the Gold Coast has the best of both worlds, it has all the nature anyone could want and on top of that it also has great work opportunities with a good amount of social events.
The Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program is a great opportunity to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone while also trying to help others see what I see in this city and in the life I am living. I’m looking forward to getting to know my fellow Ambassadors and learn more about their culture as we share experiences together on this exciting journey.
Ryan Churchill (Canada)
Doctor of Medicine, Griffith University
I am originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba which is located in the middle of Canada. My aunt is an emergency nurse who had a strong influence on my career choice because she told me interesting stories from the emergency department when I was a kid. At the age of 16, I started volunteering in the emergency department that she worked at which is where I discovered that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. I volunteered every week for eight years up until I got accepted into medical school.
After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science degree, I decided to use postgraduate education as a way for me to start a new life in Australia. One of the main reasons I chose Australia for medical school is because international students who study medicine in Australia can choose to stay and work in Australia after graduating. I am hoping to secure an internship position with Queensland Health so that I can stay on the Gold Coast and work as a doctor for the Gold Coast community after I graduate.
I chose Griffith University for several reasons – its strong reputation in health; its impressive modern teaching facilities; and the proximity of the campus to anything and everything you could need as a student including the beach, which is 15 minutes away. I was also fortunate to be awarded Griffith’s International Student Academic Excellence Scholarship, which has been a huge help in allowing me to focus on my studies.
The thing I love most about my life on the Gold Coast is that I feel like I am on a vacation that never ends. There is so much to do in Queensland and on the Gold Coast that the activities are truly endless. I wanted to be a Mayor’s Student Ambassador so that I could share my excitement for living and studying on the Gold Coast and experience what else the Gold Coast has to offer. As I approach the end of my medical degree, I can confidently say that the past four years have been the happiest years of my life and moving to the Gold Coast was the best decision I ever made. Although Canada was home for 23 years, Australia is my home now.
Sheng (Violet) Zhang (China)
Construction of Practice, Bond University
I was born in Beijing, then grew up in Shanghai, which is also a very diverse city like the Gold Coast with many nationalities there. In Shanghai I had the opportunity of working with a British theatre company and through that co-operation I began to hope that I would get the chance to connect with other cultures and visit more places. I’ve had a long association with the arts and music and some of the songs I’ve written have had over 20 million hits. After that success I was invited to collaborate with a French artist through the French Embassy in China for speaking up about women who had been kidnapped. It made me realise that I wanted to use my creativity to help and support people.
I first heard about the Gold Coast from following Mayor Tom Tate’s social media account on Weibo – I really loved that cute koala! When I first landed here I was still searching for the right place to fit in. But now, with the help of Study Gold Coast, I’ve found a life here and have fallen in love with this city. That’s why I want to be a part of this community. The more I stay, the more I want to get involved. It’s so tranquil here, just watching a sunset can be a healing force. There is such a beautiful, natural environment that anytime I feel sad or stressed, I just go for a walk down at the beach or stargazing and I know everything will be fine.
While I am working hard to become an engineer here, I still have a desire to communicate through my music and would love to connect with local artists. I joined the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program to improve my communication skills in English, develop my confidence, make more friends, become more involved in the local community and to help people through my unique ways.
Yash Bhardwaj (India)
Helensvale State High School.
I come from Delhi, the capital of India, a country known for its rich culture, history and cuisine. Growing up in my close-knit family we would often gather together to celebrate festivals and occasions and over time I have learnt how to cook some of our traditional dishes. My parents always emphasized the importance of education and they encouraged me to work hard to pursue my dreams. I went to one of the most prestigious boarding schools in India away from my hometown, where I made some lifelong friends and I believe the experience shaped me significantly as a person. I became independent, resilient and self-reliant, and I also learned important values like discipline and hard work.
I am currently enrolled in Helensvale State High School and plan to pursue a degree in finance or economics to gain the knowledge and skills needed excel in the financial industry. I was motivated to choose this course by my fascination with the language of money and managing multi-billion dollar deals that shape the global economy. I wanted to study on the Gold Coast because of its high-quality education system and its reputation as a great place for international students. I also wanted to experience a new culture and way of life and the people weather and lifestyle are amazing – all of these factors contributed to my family's decision to move to the Gold Coast, and I'm so glad that we did!
I applied to become a Mayor’s Student Ambassador because my ambition is to be a successful entrepreneur on the Gold Cast and be able to give back and promote this beautiful city. As an international student from India I want to learn more about this city and its opportunities. I’m looking forward to making new connections and friendships with people from across the globe while honing my personal and professional skills, particularly in the areas of finance, business, and entrepreneurship, all of which will help me advance in my career. With this program I'd also like to develop my networking skills and build relationships that could lead to potential business opportunities in the future.
Mercy Atukunda (Uganda)
Dual Masters’ Degree Civil Engineering/Engineering Project Management, Griffith University
I come from Entebbe, a small town in Uganda located on the Lake Victoria Peninsula. The people are great, the culture is rich and there’s lots of interesting hang out spots. It’s also where the international airport is located so there’s quite a bit of people from overseas as well. It has a diverse environment and the interactions I had with various people turned me into a curious and open minded individual.
I’ve always been fascinated by physics, understanding how the universe works and how we apply that knowledge to build civilisations. I chose civil engineering because I want to contribute to sustainable construction of infrastructure. To give you an idea of how my mind works I can solve a 3x3 Rubik’s Cube in under 4 minutes. It’s way longer than the world record right now, but it’s something I like to do for fun and it helps my brain re-set especially when I’m stressed.
I chose Griffith University in particular because of the structure of the course and it gives me more options with regard to what I can do with my career, but then there’s the bonus of the friendly people, the great weather here and the beach, which was a big part of my decision to come to the Gold Coast. Uganda is landlocked and I had never seen an ocean before - I love the beach!
I applied for the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program because I want to grow my professional network, improve my interpersonal skills and lay a foundation for long term friendships with like-minded people. I’m really excited to see and explore the places on the Gold Coast that I haven’t seen yet with the other Ambassadors. I know it’s going to be like a VIP behind the scenes experience and that’s very cool.
Blake Atkins (Australia)
Year 12, Varsity College.
I was born on the Gold Coast, but my mum was born in Canada, so we travel back every few years. While we are there, we usually visit family and the breathtaking Canadian landscapes, including Niagara Falls. She left Canada purely to escape the extremely cold winters, and certainly fell in love with the Gold Coast’s consistently warm temperatures.
An interesting fact about me is that I enjoy public speaking and being an MC at events. Many young people I know find it challenging to stand in front of other people with a microphone, but I find those sorts of scenarios enjoyable. Excitingly, I also volunteer with the Gold Coast Eisteddfod as a compère for some of their sections each year, and work as an advocate in the community, building the confidence of young people.
I‘m looking forward to meeting the other Mayor’s Student Ambassadors and hearing their thoughts and experiences about studying on the Gold Coast. I am also keen to encourage other young people to participate in exciting local community events, through volunteering or otherwise. Personally, I would love to develop a greater understanding of the rich cultural backgrounds of Gold Coast students. I believe that many students and other residents of our city do not realise the various backgrounds of others who live here.
After I graduate high school, I plan to study a Bachelor of Laws or Policy, Philosophy and Economics at Bond University, and hope to work in public service after completing my degree. Ultimately, my goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Sunwoo (Ellen) Nam (South Korea)
Master of IT, Griffith University
I was born and raised in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Seoul is a beautiful city with a blend of tradition and modern architecture. You can not only try incredible Korean food, but also cuisine from all over the world. Seoul is a city that never sleeps. It is a very technologically advanced city, but at the same time, it’s also a very busy city like any metropolis. I developed an interest in other cultures and languages by meeting people from various backgrounds in my city.
I love travelling. Travel takes us out of our comfort zones and inspires us to see, taste and try new things. It constantly tests our ability not only to adapt to, and explore new environments, but also to interact with a diverse group of people. I’ve been to more than 15 countries, and I really enjoy sharing my experience with others. If there’s any chance, I’d love to travel around Australia as well.
Back in Korea, my university had an internship program with one of the universities in Australia, and the instructor who hosted the program was from Queensland. She explained about the universities in Australia, the educational system and the working environment here. I was hesitating about a new challenge because I already had a stable job at the time, but I was able to choose this path thanks to the encouragement of the instructor who had similar concerns and experiences with me.
Before moving to the Gold Coast I was concerned about getting along with people in a completely new environment due to my shy and introverted personality. However, since the first day I arrived I've met numerous kind and supportive people. Thanks to them, I'm really enjoying my time here. I decided that I wanted to share these meaningful experiences with others and return the favours I received to those in similar situations, so I applied for the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program. I think it’s a great opportunity to improve my networking skills and to grow personally, academically and professionally by exploring my potential while developing a deeper understanding of myself through this program.
Kateryna Dmytriieva (Ukraine)
Diploma of Leadership and Management, TAFE Queensland
Up until I arrived on the Gold Coast I had lived my entire life in Odessa, which is a stunning seaport on the coast of the Black Sea. Odessa is described in many books by well-known writers, some of its best known landmarks are the beautiful Opera House and the famous Deribasovskaya Street. There is always something to do in Odessa day and night, especially in the summer season. It is a cultural city that loves to celebrate life to the full. I am incredibly proud of my hometown and love this place, a part of me will always be there no matter where I am.
New things interest me, whether it's an idea, a new product or a place I have never visited before. I write, take pictures, make short videos, and share all my impressions on Instagram. It’s my online diary where I show through my eyes how I see and love the world. I also write extensive and detailed articles about my Australian experiences. I heard about the Gold Coast for the first time from my parents, who chose this city as the best place to live many years ago. It was only after moving here that I realised how right they were.
Because of the war in the Ukraine my move was completely unexpected and unplanned. But since I'm here, I'll take the best from this experience and, of course, use the opportunity to study in a country that is one of the best in this field. The incredible support for students here is something I have never experienced before. Everyone is willing to help them and give advice. I think it can be explained by the warm climate and life by the ocean which make people happier, and therefore kinder. It's a pleasure to work, study and relax here.
I feel like the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program was made for me. All my activities and exploring the city will be organised by the team and I'll have someone to share this experience with. It's a unique opportunity that will widen my horizons and make my life even more interesting. I’m looking forward to new experiences, meeting new people, and gaining more knowledge. I want to learn everything I can about the Gold Coast and even more. My purpose is to thoroughly explore this city and share my findings with others so that as many people as possible can learn about the opportunities here.
Shoya Fujita (Japan)
Diploma in Remedial Massage, Massage Schools of Queensland
I was born and raised in Hokkaido, an island in northern part of Japan with many beautiful natural attractions, making it popular for tourists. In spring cherry blossoms bloom profusely and there is an abundance of wonderful food, while in autumn the forests and mountains turn completely red and yellow. In winter it’s a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding.
I came to the Gold Coast because it is a world-famous tourism destination filled with natural beauty and a wonderful climate. I also heard that it had a great lifestyle and everything they say about the city is absolutely true. The local people are cheerful and friendly and I feel very much accepted here as an international student.
Growing up in Japan I never had the chance to experience other cultures, but through the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program I’ll get to spend time with people from many different nationalities for the first time in my life. I’m really excited about that, as well as having the opportunity to share my experiences in this beautiful city with my friends and family back home and around the world.
Mrisha Upadhyay (Nepal)
Master of Information Technology, Southern Cross University
I grew up in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. I spent 24 years of my life there before coming to Australia and always had family around me. The city is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world and is in a large valley in the middle of the highest plateaus of Nepal. It has many world heritage sites that hold strong cultural value which is the reason it is also known as ‘the city of temples. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by such a rich cultural landscape. My family celebrate all the festivals together and I love shopping in the old alleyways and enjoy a good hike around the valley too.
After completing my undergraduate degree in Nepal I found myself to be a little lost from a career perspective. I enjoyed studying IT, but I wanted to do something interactive and out of my comfort zone rather than coding all day. My decision to work in marketing in my gap between undergrad and graduate programs changed me completely as a person. I really enjoyed talking, presenting, and understanding people’s perspective of a product. That experience shaped my skills a lot and helped me to decide which degree or what career I should choose moving forward.
When I began searching for an international study destination for my Masters I discovered the Gold Coast and was blown away by the beauty of the beaches and the scenic hinterland beauty it offers along with great universities. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to pursue my degree in here, rather than a big and busy city. My university offered the specialisation I wanted to study and along with that I wanted to shift into a more coastal area as I had lived in the mountains my whole life. I started looking at travel vlogs, information blogs and student experiences and after all the in-depth research I got a feeling that this would be the most amazing decision of my life.
I’ve always enjoyed communicating with people, pushing myself to develop my skills, and learning from others every day. For me the opportunity through the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program is all about sharing my experiences, developing my networks and representing my country at an international level while experiencing the Gold Coast like never before. Here, we are different people from different backgrounds, which in itself is a great learning experience.
Sarah Lelea (Canada)
Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), Griffith University
I’m from Vancouver, Canada, which is home to picturesque mountains and stunning forests that border the Pacific Ocean. Within Vancouver, I had the opportunity to travel between bustling cities filled with adventure and peaceful agricultural towns. As a dual citizen of Romania, I was able to visit my parents’ home country in 2021, spending four months travelling to different cities throughout the country while interacting with the fascinating culture, incredible people, and the enchanting nature. This experience taught me to embrace uncertainty, cherish my blessings, and to pursue experiences outside of my comfort zone.
I first heard about the Gold Coast when I visited Australia for the first time in 2018. Coupled with my love for the city and people here, after taking a Griffith campus tour on my revisit in 2019 I fell in love with the dream of committing to full-time studies here. My favourite thing about living and studying on the Gold Coast is the flexibility to study, work, and enjoy beautiful tropical activities all in the same day. I’ve travelled to many countries and yet Gold Coast is the best representation of a healthy work-life balance that I’ve seen.
I wanted to become a Mayor’s Student Ambassador to inspire other students, whether local or international like myself, to pursue their “impossible dreams”, no matter how big or far away they are. I am looking forward to the unique experiences and events this program puts forward as I am excited to observe the different occupational backgrounds that make this city what it is today. I look forward to improving my communication and public speaking skills, networking with people from all kinds of backgrounds, and being a voice for the student community in whichever way I can.
Iris Pham (Hong Kong)
Master of Clinical Psychology, Bond University
I was born in Hong Kong, a beautiful, vibrant and resilient city that I loved to explore growing up, especially its little eateries! I moved to Australia when I was 14 years old and lived with multiple homestay families in my teenage years. I completed my high schooling in Toowoomba, my bachelor’s degree in Brisbane, and now I’m studying my current degree here! I took a gap year between high school and university where I backpacked around Europe for a few months. I love learning about different cultures and stepping out of my comfort zone!
Once I began to explore the Gold Coast and discovered the community groups and healthy activities available across the city I fell in love with the Gold Coast’s lifestyle and decided to make it my forever home. As a student of psychology I‘m a big advocate for mental health awareness and emotional literacy, so I founded A Waiting Cove, a small business that promotes mental wellness, community connection, and creativity to support local charities.
I wanted to become a Mayor’s Student Ambassador to promote what this city has to offer. I am so honoured to be a part of this supportive tribe where I can learn and meet people from different backgrounds. I’m excited by the prospect of making life-long friends and creating positive outcomes for the community throughout the program. After I graduate I would love to continue expanding on my small business and become a clinical psychologist who can serve and help people in need.
Isaac Hawkins (Australia)
Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Business, Southern Cross University
I was born and raised on the Gold Coast and it’s been a life filled with opportunity and an abundance of enjoyment. Growing up in Miami family time at the beach was a main focus, alongside playing rugby league for the Burleigh Bears as a young lad. It is the most beautiful place in the world, accompanied with endless opportunity. Growing up in this environment was perfect, all that anyone could ask for.
I am a sponsored foiler (hydrofoil surfing) and I ride for a company named ‘Unifoil’ that originated in South Africa. It is a focus of my mornings and the most enjoyable form of fitness I’ve ever experienced. I was also School Captain and Sports Person of the Year in Year 12 at King’s Christian College, one of my proudest achievements.
I wanted to become a Mayor’s Student Ambassador to protect the esteem of the position, give a passionate and informed perspective to the benefits of the Gold Coast and position myself to be best equipped and connected as I enter the professional workforce. The role opportunities are also a motivating factor alongside the networking benefits involved in the Program.
Through the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program I’m looking forward to the networking interactions, professional development opportunities and experiences that will shape who I am as a professional and advocate of the Gold Coast. Personally, I would be emphatic if I were to connect with people from all industries and professional contexts, as well as people from differing backgrounds and those alike so that my perspective is balanced and equipped to best interact with others. And I would like to become hyper aware of the of the Gold Coast’s greatest assets, so that my already founded passion for the city is supported with detail and experience.
Surbhi Rawat (India)
Master of Social Work, Griffith University
I come from Chandigarh, one of the earliest planned cosmopolitan cities in post-independence India which is internationally known for its architecture and urban design. The master plan of the city was prepared by the Swiss French architect Le Corbusier. Located on the foothills of the lowest Himalayan ranges, Chandigarh has a plethora of sport and recreational facilities. The artificial Lake Sukhna, Rock Garden made of 2000 sculptures using stones, debris and other discarded junk and excursions in the beautiful flower gardens holds many childhood memories. The warm weather and the lush greenery of Gold Coast reminds me of Chandigarh very much.
Earlier this year I was selected to participate in the WACE Global Challenge , a global initiative aimed at achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals 2040. Participating in this three-week virtual project has made me seriously consider our impact on the environment and what we can do to protect it and ensure a sustainable future. This challenge had participants from all over the world, which I valued the most because it allowed me to connect with other Griffith University students and students from Ireland and Kyrgyzstan. Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team of students helped me to unravel my teamwork qualities and understand the cultural, political, and economic diversity and dynamism across the world.
I was drawn to study here through the professional and endless opportunities for international students, along with the serenity of the oceans, the scenic views of the mountains and the beautiful weather of the Gold Coast. It’s a fantastic, adventurous, and supportive city. Griffith University’s Master of Social Work program is rigorous and renowned across Gold Coast, pursuing the coursework feels like I am working towards my dream every day.
Being a Mayor’s Student Ambassador appealed to me because I want to take advantage of all the incredible opportunities that the Program has to offer. Having said that, my primary goal is to participate in the professional development workshops and build networks with government representatives, international delegations and the local community. In short, I want to become the best version of myself.
Georgia Frame (Australia)
Year 11, St Hilda’s School
Having spent my entire life on the Gold Coast, I can say that it has been a remarkable experience. I’ve grown up with my parents and younger brother, I also have an older brother that lives in Brisbane. I have spent many school holidays and weekends enjoying the diverse experiences the Gold Coast has to offer from its natural landscapes to the man-made attractions. It’s the combination of the sunshine and outdoor lifestyle as well as the friendly people that makes it so special. I love the diverse atmosphere and the multitude of activities available on the weekends.
I enjoy helping my community, especially within school. I love assisting the years 1, 2 and 3 girls develop their literacy and numeracy skills, as well as giving back to my schooling community through undertaking leadership opportunities.
I applied to become a Mayor’s Student Ambassador because I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and open myself up to new people and opportunities. I believe it will be a great chance to meet people from different walks of life. I’ve looked into the journey of previous Ambassadors and felt encouraged to apply as an experience like this is once in a lifetime.
As an Ambassador I want to expand my connections both professionally and socially. I’m really looking forward to meeting new people that I can share my love and passion for the Gold Coast with. I am eagerly looking forward to experiencing unique opportunities to positively impact the Gold Coast and I want to be able to use the experiences I encounter in future areas of my education and career whilst also promoting the Gold Coast as a great place to study and live.
Tamata’ane (Dan) Tatafu (Tonga)
Civil Engineering, Griffith College
I’m from a small island in Tonga where there aren’t a lot of opportunities. When I was growing up maths was one of my stronger subjects and from a very young age civil engineering stood out as a suitable career. I originally came to Australia to study in 2018 after I finished high school, but tragically my father passed away just after that when he was lost at sea. Returning home I struggled with a number of personal demons and because of COVID I couldn’t come back to Australia until last year.
When I returned in 2022 I came with passion and I came with purpose. My family is relying on me to do well and as the eldest son I wanted to lead the way and set an example for my younger siblings that it’s okay to grieve, but eventually we have to stand up again and keep striving to do our best. I came back a better version of myself, more confident and more mature.
As a budding civil engineer the Gold Coast appealed to me as an aesthetically pleasing city. It’s so close to the water and the design and construction of the city really captured my attention. On a personal level I love the people here, they are so friendly and warm which is a big thing for me as a student from abroad. Being a multicultural city I love the diversity and inclusivity here – I feel very much at home.
I applied to become a Mayor’s Student Ambassador because I saw it as an opportunity to give back to the community and also because it provides pathways to make connections while also giving me professional experience. By the end of this year’s program I will come out a better version of myself and ready to take on the future!