University alumnus and staff receives prestigious award

CAPTION: Mr Neelesh Gounder (right) with the Griffith University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian O’Connor at the awards ceremony in Canberra.

A former Masters student from the University of the South Pacific and currently a tutor in the University’s School of Economics was recently awarded the Australian Prime Minister’s Pacific-Australia (PMPA) Award.

Mr Neelesh Gounder, who hails from Nadi, Fiji was one of the international students selected for the award which is funded by the Australian Federal Government.

The PMPA Awards provide 40 Australian and 50 international students the opportunity to participate in leadership development workshops and undertake practical work placements of up to three months to gain experience and insight into the daily management of an Australian business organisation.

The awards expand the academic experience gained by postgraduate awardees of the Australian Development Scholarships (ADS) and Australian Leadership Award Scholarships (ALAS) programs.

Mr Gounder who did his PhD studies in Australia on the ALAS program, recently submitted his PhD thesis and is expected to be awarded his PhD in the next few months.

During his Masters studies, Mr Gounder was supervised by Professor Biman Prasad. Professor Prasad, who is USP’s Professor of Economics, said he is proud of Neelesh’s achievements. He highlighted that Neelesh was a good example of the quality of research students that are produced by USP.

In a letter informing Mr Gounder of his selection, AusAID’s Acting Assistant Director General for the Scholarships and Volunteers Branch, Fiona Cornwell stated, “you have been chosen to receive an award because of your sustained academic achievement, contribution to community and university activities, demonstrated leadership capacity, and the relevance of your proposed work placement to your academic studies, future employment, and the development of your home country.”

The awards presentation was made by the Prime Minister of Australia, Honourable Julia Gillard at a dinner function in Canberra on 6 December 2012.

In congratulating the recipients, the Prime Minister said the awards recognise emerging leaders from Australia and participating economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Awardees from the Pacific receiving the PMPA Awards were selected from outstanding Australia Award scholarship holders from the Pacific, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

This year’s awardees are studying and working in the areas of health, education, food security, infrastructure, mining, trade, climate change, environment, governance and social development.

Their work placements include places like state and federal government departments, research institutes, university centres, city councils, sporting organisations and non-government organisations.

Mr Gounder will return to USP towards the end of February, 2013.

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