Hard work pays off for Moungkhoun (and runners-up Camelia and Margarita).

Dianne Leckie Memorial Award winner Moungkhoun says the prize will motivate him to continue working hard.
Dianne Leckie Memorial Award winner Moungkhoun says the prize will motivate him to continue working hard.

UTS Bachelor of Business student Moungkhoun Soukkaseum is living proof that sustained effort gets results. After winning the Outstanding Graduate award for UTS College Foundation Studies and UTS College Diploma of Business, the hardworking student has now added the prestigious Dianne Leckie Memorial Scholarship to his achievements.  
Dianne Leckie was a passionate believer in higher education
Established in 2013, the award covers two years’ tuition fees at UTS. It is awarded annually – based on a mix of academic merit and personal qualities – to an international student who has completed the UTS College Diploma of Business and is enrolled in the Bachelor of Business at UTS. There are also two runner-up prizes of $1000. The scholarship honours the memory of Dianne Leckie, who served on the board of UTS College from 2007 to 2011, and on the UTS Council from 2002 to 2011. Ms Leckie was a passionate believer in the opportunities that higher education can provide, and her legacy lives on through this prize.
“Am I dreaming right now?”
Moungkhoun says even his previous awards did not prepare him for the news of this win. “When I found out,” he says, “I remember asking myself ‘Is this true? Am I dreaming right now?’ So many thoughts went through my brain at that moment.” Before calling his family in Laos, he checked one more time, just in case he’d made a mistake. Moungkhoun wanted to be sure before sharing the good news. Not wanting to jinx anything, he had kept the whole process a secret from the time he’d been invited to apply. “They had no expectation, so my call was a complete surprise. They were excited and proud, and a bit baffled,” he says, “but it was great to have good news to share during lockdown.
Strong work ethic
Moungkhoun grew up in a business environment and says his parents inspired his passion for a business career. “My interest started when I was very young and it just gets more exciting over time as I learn and immerse myself in the subject,” he says. “Seeing my parents running their business has always inspired me to work hard. I respect their work ethic. They gave me the opportunity to come to Australia and I aspire to be like them – to improve myself and adopt their good principles.” There’s no doubt that Moungkhoun’s deeply embedded work ethic has served him well.   
Winning such a significant scholarship will make a big difference to Moungkhoun as he completes his degree. He says, “I’m so thankful for being selected for this prize. I know it will motivate me to continue working hard and hopefully contribute back to my community after I graduate. Ultimately, I plan to return to my country. I’d like to contribute to my family business and hope that I can also use my knowledge and skills to make a difference to the business landscape in Laos.”
Talented runners-up
This year’s runners-up were Margarita Rai, from Russia, and Camelia Dewi Amara, from Indonesia. Margarita is currently studying Bachelor of Management at UTS, majoring in Events. “Once I graduate, I would like to work with concerts, tours, festivals or maybe theatre,” she says. “I really want to give my best somewhere I can be useful.” She considers the award a great honour. “It gives me this feeling of being part of UTS and UTS College culture,” she says.
Camelia, who is now studying Bachelor of Business at UTS, majoring in Finance, was also greatly encouraged by the award. She appreciates the inspiration such a prize offers to international students. “It can be hard to study in another country, but I think you have to be brave. Try all the opportunities you can. See them as a chance to improve yourself. You can create your future.”
Read more about the Dianne Leckie scholarship here.