Not content with lapping other swimmers in the pool and ocean, Flinders University student Leila Nazimi has also lapped her academic competition by winning the Governor’s International Student of the Year Award on Friday.
Ms Nazimi, an English-born Iranian studying for a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology – who is also an experienced Surf Life Saver and one of Henley Beach Masters Swimming Club’s star performers – received the accolade at Government House.
Not surprisingly, given her outstanding achievements in the swimming pool and ocean, which include a State Record and world top 10 placing in the 400m freestyle event, she also took the Sports Award category.
Ms Nazimi said she had entered the awards at the suggestion of Flinders International Centre’s Jane Horgan – but had never believed she could win.
“I know Jane through swimming and she suggested I enter, but I didn’t expect to win at all because the achievements of the other students were so amazing,” she said. “It was a complete surprise.”
Ms Nazimi, who said her father’s Iranian heritage and culture are an important part of her life, also paid tribute to her team mates at Henley Beach Masters Swimming Club and West Beach Surf Life Saving Club for giving her the opportunity to do what she loves.
“When I was growing up, I idolised all of the Australian swimmers, so to be able to come here and have the opportunity to do something similar is a dream come true,” she said.
She said studying Marine Biology at Flinders had given her access to a wide range of topics and provided rare opportunities to work with organisations such as the South Australian Research and Development Institute and Port Lincoln Marine Centre.
She also had kind words for the views from the University’s Bedford Park campus.
“I just love being able to walk across campus and see the ocean every day, it’s so beautiful,” she said.
In more good news for Flinders, another Iranian student, Houman Zandi zadeh, finished runner up in the Arts Award category.
Mr Zandi zadeh is the first Iranian theatre practitioner to undertake a creative PhD in Drama in an English-speaking country, and is a writer and expert on Persian programs for Radio Adelaide.
His contributions to the arts in South Australia include presenting at Persian Cultural Association of South Australia Nights, and serving as a jury member in the GreenRoom Short Film Competition as part of the OzAsia Festival.
Professor Nancy Cromar, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) at Flinders University, said the awards success underscored the high quality of Flinders’ international students and their contributions to South Australia.
“Flinders University is very proud of Leila and Houman’s achievements, both academically and through their community contributions,” Professor Cromar said.
“Leila and Houman are great ambassadors of Flinders’ vision as a University that engages, and their contributions to surf lifesaving and the arts in South Australia epitomise the Flinders ethos of serving the communities in which we operate,” she said.
“Leila’s achievement in winning the top award is particularly well deserved and acknowledges the bright future ahead of this young woman.”