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Local student means; you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, a New Zealand citizen or a permanent humanitarian visa holder.
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International student means; you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, a New Zealand citizen or a permanent humanitarian visa holder.

Chasing Dreams and Making Her Family Proud: Estefania’s Story

Estefania Rios Varela has always had big dreams. She’s driven by the desire to carve out her own path and create a future her family can be proud of.

Originally from Chile, Estefania moved to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Business right before the global pandemic fell into full stride.

“This time was very tough,” she recounts, “I was reluctant to continue my course. I can't work. I can't move to my country. I can't do anything more than study and finish what I came to do.”

After only a month of in-person classes, her cohort switched to online learning where she grappled with the two-fold challenge of studying online while also being away from home in a new country.

She persevered, dug her boots into the ground and excelled, finding solace among other International students who shared her experience.

That same first-hand understanding of the difficulty of being away from family and making a new home helped her to find and then create a community.

A natural leader and mentor

Estefania went on to join the Melbourne Polytechnic International Student Hub Mentor Program as a Student Support Officer. In this role, she was able to help others who were in the same position she once was.

Throughout her course, Estefania received high praise from both classmates and lecturers alike, maintaining an impeccable academic record and consistently pushing practical projects beyond the classroom. On several occasions, business projects she pitched received widespread interest from some of Melbourne’s top industry leaders.

She now sits as our International Student Recruitment and Admissions Officer within our international Student Hub, continuing to support and advise other students.

Estefania’s progression is the prime example of the Melbourne Polytechnic journey and all that we strive to facilitate within our students.

A testament to her hard work

Estefania won both the Overall Outstanding Student of the Year Award 2023 and Outstanding Business and Construction Higher Education Student of the Year Award 2023.

“The course was fantastic,” she says. “My lecturers were amazing. They always supported me and encouraged me to do my best”.

Estefania notes how she had to balance chasing her dreams with the reality of the sacrifices needed to achieve them.

Recently, at her graduation ceremony, her mum flew over from Chile to represent the family and honour Estefania’s achievements.

In Estefania’s words, “Probably, she's not going to understand everything because she doesn't speak in English. But, she will see how I'm feeling. She's going to feel it also. That's really, really important for me.”

We can’t wait to see what Estefania sets out to do next and have no doubt that it will make her family proud.