The chance to study overseas as part of his degree has been a life changing experience for University of Tasmania student Riak Ngor-Apuol.
The 2016 recipient of the University’s Soren Nielsen Travelling Scholarship in Engineering, Mr Ngor-Apuol has just returned from a six- month study exchange in Mexico, which reaped great rewards both academically and personally.
“It was a massive opportunity and help for me financially and in many other ways,” Mr Ngor-Apuol.
“Apart from the study, the exchange gave me the chance to gain a further understanding of the person I am.
“I managed to mature in a way I probably would not have if I stayed here, meet amazing people from everywhere and seeing a lot of places that I would not have if I hadn’t received the scholarship.”
The $5000 scholarship is supported through a bequest from the late Soren Nielsen, a Danish migrant to Tasmania.
The scholarship is open to a student in the engineering discipline who is undertaking an international exchange program or another approved study opportunity overseas and who is not already receiving financial support for their travel.
Coming to Tasmania as a refugee from South Sudan, East Africa, in 2007, Mr Ngor-Apuol studied at Sacred Heart College in New Town and Guilford Young College in Hobart, before starting a five year combined degree in engineering and applied maths at the University.
“I couldn’t see myself doing any course other than engineering because I am good at what is taught,” he said.
“My cousin also studied engineering and when I first came here he was a mentor and inspired me.”
Having left his own country and culture at an early age, Mr Ngor-Apuol said he was keen to choose an exchange country with which he could connect.
“The University’s exchange program has many options that allow you to go to places including Europe, Asia and the USA,” he said.
“But I chose Mexico because I felt like it had a lot of culture and after being away from my birthplace for so long I needed that.”
While in Mexico Mr Ngor-Apuol studied at the University of Monterrey, billed as one of the top Universities in Latin America.
Now in the fourth year of his five-year degree Mr Ngor-Apuol said he was keen to embark on more travel if the chance came up.
“The exchange has given me more courage to try something different,” he said.
“If the opportunity to travel as part of my degree came up I would highly consider it now compared to before.”
Executive Director, Advancement and CEO of the University of Tasmania Foundation Young Dawkins said the scholarship was a great example of the broad reach a University of Tasmania education could have.
“This wonderful scholarship made possible by the late Soren Nielsen illustrates the global reach and impact of a University of Tasmania education,” Mr Dawkins said.
“The fact that the estate of a Dutch migrant to Tasmania would one day allow a South Sudanese student to pursue his engineering studies in Mexico is a powerful illustration of philanthropy changing lives for the better.”
For information regarding making a gift in your Will to the University contact Gaye French, Advancement Coordinator for the University of Tasmania Foundation at: Gaye.French@utas.edu.au