The marketing exec living her best life as a student ambassador in Melbourne

student ambassador
Hani Nadhirah Azman’s study abroad journey started when she visited the University of Nottingham’s China and UK campuses. Source: Hani Nadhirah Azman.

When Hani Nadhirah Azman from Malaysia recalls her time abroad, she remembers them as “one of the best experiences” of her life.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Nottingham Malaysia, Azman had the opportunity to spend a year at the university’s sister campuses in China and the UK.

This was where she experienced different seasons (like snow) for the first time, was exposed to different education systems and took part in events promoting Malaysian culture.

“Most dearly, I made fond memories from bonding trips, late night study sessions with the occasional night market run, and cooking together with friends that I wanted to experience all over again,” says Azman. 

And she’s doing just that today.

Now working towards a master’s degree in marketing communications at the University of Melbourne, Azman is well underway in having new experiences and creating new memories during her time abroad. 

As a student ambassador, it’s not even a stretch to say she’s living life to its exuberant best.

From getting to know people from all walks of life to attending events like Global Citizen NOW and the 2024 Australian F1 Grand Prix, Azman’s journey as a student ambassador with Study Melbourne – a Victorian Government initiative providing support and information to international students in the region – has only just begun. 

student ambassador

Azman (top row, third from the right) with fellow Malaysian students after performing a Chinese Fan dance at the University of Nottingham’s UK campus’s Malaysian Festival. Source: Hani Nadhirah Azman.

The steps to becoming a student ambassador 

Everything started with a pre-departure briefing. 

Before Azman boarded the flight to Melbourne to begin her master’s degree, she attended the event hosted at the Study Melbourne Hub Kuala Lumpur.

There, she spoke with current students from the University of Melbourne, who offered their advice and insights to best prepare for this new chapter in her life. 

That session was the tip of the iceberg. Azman soon found plenty of resources for international students on Study Melbourne’s website and was grateful for the information available.

It was then too that she got the idea to become a student ambassador, even if she didn’t know such a role existed. 

“I want to be someone who helps other international students, represents their voices, and gives back to society,” says Azman. “When my friend told me that the application to become a Study Melbourne student ambassador opened in January 2024, I applied immediately!”

It was a tough process that required much preparation and effort, but Azman was committed to securing the role. 

It took completing an online application, producing a video highlighting why she’d make a good candidate, and being interviewed by the Study Melbourne team before the verdict was made. 

With her excellent communication skills, commitment to contributing to the international student community, and passion for promoting Melbourne as a world-class education destination, Azman beat  280 applicants. 

student ambassador

Azman pictured with Caroline Hartnett, Study Melbourne’s director, at the Global Citizen NOW Melbourne summit. Source: Hani Nadhirah Azman.

The highlights of being a student ambassador so far

Student ambassadors are usually current students who volunteer or are selected for their exemplary performance in their programme to represent their school to prospective students and their families. 

Some, like Azman, work with larger organisations like the education departments of state or national governments.

Regardless of the institution they serve, student ambassadors typically perform duties such as helping with open days, delivering talks about the programmes and campus life, and providing support during arrivals and enrolment.

While it isn’t an official paid role, some universities provide tuition rebates. 

For Azman, her first month as a Study Melbourne student ambassador has been a whirlwind of activities.

Azman’s first event consisted of promoting Study Melbourne’s services to international students at the Melbourne International Student Week at Fed Square. 

Her second event was at Global Citizen NOW, a summit that brings together the brightest minds, influential decision-makers, and the biggest names in pop culture to create a global agenda for urgent action.

There, discussions and action plans for defeating poverty through accessible education, preserving the planet, and fighting for gender equality were put on the table. 

“I gained so much knowledge and wisdom from inspiring youth advocates and leaders taking action towards these issues,” says Azman. 

But the most exciting event of all was attending the 2024 Australian F1 Grand Prix, where Azman joined a panel discussion on the inclusion of diverse women in F1 and its aligned industries. 

The panel included the likes of Sarah Styles, Director of the Office for Women, Sport and Recreation at the Victorian Government, Sally Curtain, CEO of Bendigo Kangan Institute, and Frances Bernadette Romero, Electronics Lead at RMIT Motorsport. 

“It was uplifting to see them pave the way for other women,” says Azman. 

student ambassador

Azman (second from the right), pictured with fellow Study Melbourne student ambassadors at the 2024 Australian F1 Grand Prix. Source: Hani Nadhirah Azman.

Apart from the panel, Azman and her fellow ambassadors explored the F1 track and went on pit lane walks, witnessing how the teams changed tires in mere seconds.

“I was extremely amazed as it was my first time attending the Grand Prix,” says Azman.

“The highlight of the day was saying hello to Mercedes’ George Russell and taking a selfie with Ferrari’s reserve driver Oliver Bearman.” 

Azman’s latest duties as a student ambassador brought her to Study Melbourne Ambassadors’ Professional Development Day. There, she learned more about herself and her fellow ambassadors and gained new skills for advanced public speaking and panel discussions. 

But the fun didn’t just end there – in true (and uniquely) Melbourne fashion, they embraced their eccentricities and had a “Silent Disco Walking Tour” where they unapologetically sang and danced to 80s and 2010s hits across the city streets. 

“It was embarrassing at first, but we had fun together, and it boosted my confidence to present myself in public,” says Azman. 

student ambassador

Azman (top row, fifth from the right) pictured with other Study Melbourne student ambassadors after their Silent Disco Walking Tour. Source: Hani Nadhirah Azman.

The joys of studying in Melbourne

Life so far has been close to everything Azman hoped for. 

When she was planning to study abroad, she aimed to boost her knowledge and career as well as to meet people from various walks of life.

“Studying abroad meant opportunities to build genuine connections with like-minded people on a larger scale,” says Azman. “After working in a marketing role for two years, I yearned for personal development and another adventure of a lifetime.”

Being in Australia’s best student city (ranked #4 in the QS Best Student Cities 2024) made it better still. 

“I had no experience living in Australia yet, so I thought this would be an opportunity to start afresh and achieve my goals,” says Azman.

“And I love the fact that Melbourne is such a multicultural city. For most international students, it makes them feel as if they are home away from home.”

But like all students who go abroad for the first time – or in Azman’s case, the first time in a while – there’s bound to be a bumpy start to the journey. 

Like most, she found it hard to find a community to belong to. While Australia has seen a surge in international student population – the year-to-date January 2024 saw 582,636 enrolmentsit isn’t easy to make friends, especially when you’re getting older. 

“It felt daunting to make new friends after not doing it for several years, especially in a different country,” says Azman.

Determined to make the most of her time abroad, she joined Melb Matcha Girlies on TikTok.

“I went to the first meetup on my birthday last year,” says Azman. “We are a group of girls who share the utmost passion for anything matcha. We go on cafe dates, picnics, pilates, and do artsy activities together.”

“By joining this community, I also get the inside scoop on the best matcha around the city.”

But Melbourne boasts more than just a variety of cuisines and a seemingly endless stream of cafes to feed its coffee addiction.

There are many exciting activities – free and paid – that happen across Australia’s second city.

At Fed Square, Azman caught Bujerah’s concert and watched a free screening of the film “La La Land.”

At the Royal Botanic Garden’s outdoor Moonlight Cinema, she basked in the sun before watching a movie. 

She’s also checked out ACMI and the National Gallery Victoria, on top of attending a Taylor Swift’s Candlelight Strings Quartet tribute concert. 

‘The best decision’

“I would never trade my experience in Melbourne for anything in the world,” says Azman. “I am thriving and couldn’t be happier as I made the best decision for myself one year ago. 

Currently, Azman is still hard at work, juggling her role as a student ambassador and a full-time master’s degree student who loves exploring all Australia and Melbourne have to offer. 

“My goal is to become a marketing expert,” says Azman. “I want to work with different clients, product types, and industries. The Study Melbourne services also helped me build a stand-out resume career-wise, but I’ll keep adding more experiences to it. “ 

These are problems for future Azman. “At the moment, I really want to enjoy my time as a university student,” she says.

“I have one year left and want to make the most out of it by living in the moment.”