International student lights path for disabled

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Dr Emmanuel Ita Bassey and Mrs Helen Bassey, right, with Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students) Professor Clare Pollock at the International Student Awards at Government House on 28 October 2016.

South Australian International Student of the Year 2016, Flinders University student Emmanuel Ita Bassey, is pleased to use return flights to Nigeria to keep helping people with disabilities.

“I would like to go back to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital clinic in January for at least six months to continue my work, and apply my knowledge to helping more people with disabilities, not just those with visual impairments,” says Dr Bassey who completed a Master of Disability Policy and Practice at Flinders University.

The former clinician, who lost his sight to cataract disease several years ago, has established a visual rehabilitation unit in a tertiary eye hospital in Nigeria to save people travelling up to 2000km for treatment. As well as being Medical Officer (Visual Rehabilitation) at the hospital, he is Acting Secretary of the Nigerian Computer Association of the Blind.

Dr Bassey received the return flights to Nigeria after winning the International Student of the Year Award at the sixth annual StudyAdelaide South Australia awards at Government House on Friday.

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Flinders international student Zijia Wong receives her award from StudyAdelaide SA chairman Mr Bill Spurr AO, left, and SA Governor His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC.

He also was joint winner with Flinders Master of Teaching (Early Childhood) student Zijia Wong (Singapore) for the Excellence in Academic Postgraduate Coursework Award.

“Receiving this award is such an amazing honour,” says Dr Bassey, who studied with the Disability and Community Inclusion discipline at Flinders.

“When I lost my sight, I couldn’t practice medicine any more and that’s why I’m in Australia to do this disability study.

“Now I’ve applied to Flinders to commence a PhD in disability studies in July 2017 to continue helping Nigerians with adult-onset visual impairment and many other disabilities.”

Dr Bassey says glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in Nigeria, with treatment and prevention often difficult to access and expensive particularly in rural areas.

Studying at Flinders as an Australia Awards scholar, Dr Bassey has received a letter of commendation from Flinders University Chancellor and been recognised by the Golden Key International Honours Society for academic excellence.

Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Sebastian Raneskold says there are hundreds of nominations every year from across South Australia’s educational institutions for the StudyAdelaide International Awards.

“Emmanuel’s outstanding academic capabilities, and inspiring career goals and personal attributes, made him a very worthy recipient of the International Student of the Year and Academic Excellence awards this year,” Mr Raneskold says.

“Even more importantly, he will use his Flinders University study to further improve the lives of many more Nigerian people living with disabilities to reach their full potential.”

Mr Raneskold also congratulated Zijia Wong, the joint winner of the Academic Excellence in Postgraduate Coursework Award, the other Flinders University award recipients, and all others involved in the awards.

Zijia Wong has focused her studies on teaching children from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds while Rachel Mesler, who won the University Undergraduate Academic Excellence award, is one of the top 10% of students in her degree at Flinders.

Other Flinders University international students acknowledged at the StudyAdelaide award ceremony were:

Undergraduate Academic Excellence – winner Rachel Mesler (from Norway / US) who is studying Bachelor of Information Technology (Digital Media) Honours, and highly commended Keren Wu (China) Bachelor of Clinical Sciences, Doctor of Medicine.

Community Engagement – high commendations to Guiqing (Henry) Liu (China) and Anupol Bordoloi (India), both studying Master of Social Work at Flinders.

Artistic Achievement – highly commended Li Jiaming (China), Master of Social Work.

Other winners in the ten categories came from the other SA universities, TafeSA, academic schools and pathway programs.

StudyAdelaide was established in 1998 to promote Adelaide as an international study destination and to support the recruitment activities of its member institutions.

StudyAdelaide chief executive Karyn Kent says many students in the awards have shown high levels of perseverance and determination in coming to Australia to complete their studies.

“Emmanuel’s story in particular shows that a South Australian education can have an impact on the lives of not only the students who come here, but also on people from their home country,” Ms Kent says.

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