The Mayor’s Student Ambassador program offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to Gold Coast secondary and higher education students, including VIP behind the scenes experiences, personal development, cultural happenings, professional networking and the opportunity to lead and facilitate events across the city.
This year we have an amazing and diverse group of Ambassadors, with 20 students of 11 different nationalities representing the Gold Coast. We asked them to share some insights about themselves, why they chose to study on the Gold Coast and what they would like to get out of the Mayor’s Student Ambassador program.
What does it take to become a Mayor’s Student Ambassador? Read on to discover what makes the 2019 contingent such an exceptional group of young people.
2019 Mayor's Student Ambassadors
Severino Murze (India) – Masters in Marketing, Griffith University
I’m an entrepreneur and I want to start my own business in the medical or pharmaceutical fields. I’m undertaking my Masters so I can better understand how to market my business. I met some of last year’s Ambassadors and was really impressed by what they said about the program so I applied this year. I’d love to enhance my networking skills, but that’s the beauty about studying on the Gold Coast, you get so many opportunities here. This program takes you out of your comfort zone, so I think it will be a challenging year, but in the best possible way. I’m really looking forward to it.
Pritesh Panchchigar (Canada) – Law, Bond University
I’m from Vancouver where I previously helped implement a real estate course. I chose Bond University because of its reputation. I had heard so many positive things about it from friends and family. Bond’s two-year accelerator program was particularly attractive to me. My end goal is to become a corporate lawyer, hopefully in Vancouver, but I’m open to staying on the Gold Coast because I really love it here.
Carolina Hoyos (Colombia) – Bachelor of Languages and Linguistics, Griffith University
I love the Gold Coast. Previously, I lived in Brisbane and used to come here every weekend and then I thought I must live in this beautiful place, so here I am. I would like to be a teacher, so I’m thinking of doing my Masters in Education after this course. I applied for the Mayor’s Student Ambassador program because I wanted to meet people who had the same passion as me and then share that experience with everyone. I am excited about what is in store this year.
Reece Jackson (Australia) – Bachelor of Journalism and International Relations, Bond University
I grew up on the Gold Coast and originally studied journalism in Brisbane, but then switched to Bond. The difference between the two study experiences is incredible. The teachers know my name at Bond for starters, so it is much more personalised, but it is not just the teachers, it is the students too. We all go to class together, study together and we are all in the Journalism Society together. Best of all, the freedom of student life here on the Gold Coast allows me to be the creative professional I aspire to be.
Alwaled Alomar (Iraq) – Bachelor of Business, Griffith University
I am a shy person, so I joined the Mayor’s Student Ambassador program for personal and professional growth. It was the Gold Coast that attracted me first, it is such a beautiful city, and I knew people who spoke highly of it. Then I met a representative from Griffith in Jordan, and I knew that is where I wanted to study. The experience here is nothing like I expected, but I am very much enjoying the city and campus. It is wonderful.
Georgia Muller (Australia) - Osteopathy, Southern Cross University
I am a born and bred Gold Coaster so studying here was the natural option for me. Although I started a videography business during my final year at school which I still run, I also have a passion for health and helping people. My family (especially my Mum), has always been interested in health and nutrition, which left a lasting impression on me, particularly the values and methods of osteopathy. I joined the Mayor’s Student Ambassador program because I have an entrepreneurial spirit and I was attracted to the chance of networking with fellow students as well as the wider community.
Daisy Powvalla (Australia) – Commerce and International Business, Griffith University
I was born in India, grew up in New Zealand and then moved to Australia seven years ago. My dream career is any job where I can travel and be challenged. I became a Mayor’s Student Ambassador because I have become friends with some of the previous Ambassadors and they all recommended it highly.
Rohan Rafael Das (Kenya) – Honours in Bio Medical Science, Bond University
In Kenya, I helped established a youth start-up enterprise called “Stand Up Shout Out”. It began as a youth organisation and is now an NGO which aims to empower people to stop wildlife poachers through education. I chose Bond because it was one of the few Australian universities that offers bio chemistry research. I am currently working with my professor on a new and less invasive cancer therapy that uses the body’s natural defence systems to fight the disease.
Nguyen ‘Ken’ Mai Thy Dihn (Vietnam) – Masters of International Tourism and Hotel Management, Southern Cross University
I am from Ho Chi Minh City and have been living in Australia for almost two years. Originally, I intended to go to Sydney or Melbourne, but when I looked at the Gold Coast online it was love at first sight for me. I joined the Mayor’s Student Ambassador program because I want to enrich my knowledge, develop my networking contacts and I also want to contribute to student events because I love to support other people like myself.
Erin Fisher (Australia) – Year 12, Varsity College
I have not decided what I want to study after school yet, but at this stage, I am thinking either Law at Bond University or Hotel Management at Griffith University. I joined the Mayor’s Student Ambassador program because I realised it is a great opportunity for me to give something back to my community. I like to get involved in everything and I see this as a chance to learn better leadership skills so that I can give back to my school and community. Getting to know everyone in the program and being exposed to all these different cultures is just amazing.
Mirriyannan Harris (Australia) – Bachelor of Business, Southern Cross University
I am an indigenous Australian who grew up in Goondiwindi, Queensland. My parents are both teachers and we moved to the Gold Coast when I was eight. My dream career is to secure a corporate leadership position. I see that as an ideal opportunity to be a role model for other indigenous people, so business and leadership is a good pathway. I love the diversity of the Mayor’s Student Ambassador program and I am looking forward to the networking opportunities while it pushes me out of my comfort zone.
Saya Okakuchi (Japan) – Year 12, Miami State High School
I am from Saitama, about thirty minutes outside of Tokyo, Japan. I previously came to the Gold Coast for a two-week study tour, and I loved it. I am inspired by the Gold Coast because it is so beautiful and totally different from Japan. I also wanted to change myself and develop a broader outlook on the world. I am really enjoying Miami State High and would like to stay on, hopefully going to Griffith University to study tourism. Then I would love to promote the Gold Coast as a destination to Japanese people, in fact, anybody really. As a Mayor’s Student Ambassador, I want to grow myself through teamwork activities while improving my writing and speaking skills. It is such a great opportunity.
Nathaly Pinzon Morales (Colombia) – Early Childhood, TAFE Gold Coast
I love TAFE, the quality of the education is great, but more than that, you get the opportunity to directly engage in the local community through the course and that creates better understanding. I already have a Bachelor’s Degree in Robotics and I would like to combine that with my Early Childhood Diploma so that I can teach robotics to young children. Children are so creative. I think there is a wonderful opportunity not only for them to learn robotics but to develop new technologies in the process. I became a Mayor’s Student Ambassador because I want to develop my English skills and improve my confidence by being part of the program.
Greeshma Sajeev (Australia) – Bachelor of Nursing, Griffith University
I was attracted to Griffith because they have the best nursing program, they do their placements early in the year and you get placed in good institutions. I have grown up on the Gold Coast, so I would like to start my career here and then maybe I will look at spreading my wings. The Mayor’s Student Ambassador program has already provided me with a great group of friends, but more than that, I would like to develop great leadership qualities that I can implement into my career. I really like the opportunity of meeting new people which really helps you to grow as a person.
Xiaodan ‘Danna’ Weng (China) –Bachelor of Property, Bond University
I was born and raised in Beijing and chose to study on the Gold Coast mainly because my beautiful university Bond is located here. As a girl growing up in a big city the relaxing lifestyle of living by the beach also appealed to me. I love living and studying here and regard the Gold Coast as my second home. The Mayor's Student Ambassador program is a once in a lifetime chance that I didn't want to miss out on. I’m really looking forward to the adventure, that’s why I grabbed the opportunity eagerly. Now that I’m part of this wonderful program I hope we can create new ideas to make the student experience on the Gold Coast even better.
Ahmed Aljunaibi (Oman) – Mechanical Engineering, Griffith University
I was serving an internship for a chemical engineering company in Oman and was based in the desert. I interviewed for the Ambassador program via Skype at 5am, it was freezing cold and a surreal experience interviewing for this program on the sunny Gold Coast, but I made it through and here I am.
Now that I’m here I have to say that it’s a beautiful city and great to study in. I’m having the best time of my life, I love it here. I got excited about the MSA program after seeing a video by one of last year’s Ambassadors, Bren Domingo. As soon as I saw it I knew that it was what I wanted to do. It’s a great opportunity to develop my leadership and communication skills.
Hugh Maxey (Australia) – Bachelor of Business and Commerce, Bond University
I grew up on a wheat farm in Western NSW near a town of just 200 people. I chose Bond because it offers a completely different study experience and changed my perception on university.
The Gold Coast is an exciting place to live and study – there’s always so much to do. The Ambassador program is a great example of the opportunities here. I hope to take away an enhanced perception of the world and the different people and cultures within it from this experience.
Tanya Bhandari (India) – Masters of International Tourism and Hospitality Management, Griffith University
I was working in southern India in the hotel trade for a few years and it was time for a change. I wanted to further my studies and Australia has always held a fascination for me. The Gold Coast in particular has so much natural beauty, it was my preferred choice over the bigger cities.
There’s so much to see and do here that it’s overwhelming. I feel like I want to do it all, but I just don’t know where to start! That’s one of the reasons why I joined the Mayor’s Student Ambassador program. It provides so many unique experiences in this city that it was an opportunity I just didn’t want to miss. I’ve already made some great friends in the program, everyone’s just been wonderful and I’m really looking forward to what’s in store this year.