Serge Nassif is not your average student. While it’s true he’s smart – he’s currently studying for a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce degree – and altruistic – by the age of 22, Serge had started his own charity to improve the academic performance of young people in disadvantaged communities – he’s also been identified as a future leader by the Australian government for his commitment to deepening Australia’s engagement with Asia.
Serge is one of four Macquarie University undergraduate students awarded a 2018 New Colombo Plan (NCP) Scholarship. He’s part of an elite group of students selected to study at leading universities in Asia and represent Australia as student ambassadors. He recently left Australia to study at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, and this will be his base for the next semester. He will also receive a monthly stipend, travel and moving allowances and language tuition.
It’s a prestigious recognition for Serge – as well as 119 other 2018 NCP Scholars from across Australia – who, late last year, all gathered in Canberra to accept their awards from the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Julie Bishop MP. Also in attendance was Macquarie’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), Nicole Brigg (picture below with Serge). She spoke of the “amazing experiences that come with spending time immersed in an Asian culture, as well as the importance of developing a sophisticated understanding and cultural competency with Australia’s regional neighbours”.
Ms Brigg also expressed the pride Macquarie has for these talented students, noting “During your studies you’ll be an ambassador for Macquarie and Australia, though on your return you’ll be an ambassador for host country as well.”
Serge says the NCP Scholarship will provide him and his fellow recipients with the opportunity to apply a unique and foreign perspective to academia and professional experience. “By applying this broader approach to my future endeavours in the professional sphere, this program will contribute substantially to my personal development and career aspirations,” he says.
While Serge was quickly noticed as a high-performing student worthy of the award, it’s likely that his work on the Bunji Initiative, his charity, raised the profile of his application. “In essence, the Bunji Initiative aims to improve education via the introduction of technology and digital learning resources,” explains Serge. He aims to first launch the project in Bangalore, by introducing electronic tablets into a learning and rehabilitation centre for youths with disabilities.
As well as ensuring the success of the Bunji Initiative and pursuing his legal studies, Serge also hopes to develop professional networks in his host country, where there’ll be NCP support for access to internships with multinational companies and multi-lateral organisations.
Serge hopes there will be other projects completed under the umbrella of the Bunji initiative. “The idea here is that the entire initiative itself is not limited to tablets or to schools for rehabilitation but could, for example, be a project that may involve projectors or laptops for a different school or university in a different country or region,” he says.
What is the New Colombo Plan scholarship and how do I apply for it?
The NCP Scholarship Program provides an opportunity for Australian undergraduate students to undertake semester-based internships or mentorships in 40 participating Indo-Pacific locations. As a signature initiative of the Australian Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, gaining a place in the NCP Program is extremely competitive. As part of the Program, scholarship recipients undertake training from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and have access to exciting internship opportunities in Asia and Australia. The Program sees students – Australia’s future leaders – gain vital global competencies while acting as ambassadors for Australia. To date the NCP Scholarship Program has funded over 550 of Australian’s best and brightest students.
For more information on how you can apply 2019 NCP program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the NCP webpage at DFAT. There will also be a 2019 NCP Scholarship Information Session on 6 April. Those invited to attend will need to RSVP to this event here.