It has been a year of many firsts for AusAid scholar Ntsotiseng Mokhoabane, from Lesotho in Southern Africa.
The first AusAid (Australian Agency for International Development) scholar to come to Bond from Africa, Ntsotiseng this month also became the first to graduate, successfully completing her Masters in Educational Practice.
Less than a year ago, Ntsotiseng used the internet for the first time, and last month, made her teaching debut in a digital classroom at Elanora State High School; an experience she says was daunting, but incredibly rewarding.
“Before the first day of my practicum, I didn’t sleep at all. I was so scared because at home we don’t use computers at all.
“But, I managed it and I loved it. The students became so attached to me and I will miss them very much,” she said.
Speaking at her graduation ceremony, Ntsotiseng said she was “very proud and very happy” with her achievement.
“I am so proud to stand here with my Master's degree and all the knowledge that I have to take back to my country,” she said.
Ntsotiseng came to Bond on an AusAid-managed Australian Development Scholarship, an initiative of the Federal Government that is designed to build partnerships and increase mutual understanding, knowledge and innovation with neighbouring developing countries.
The 34-year-old, who back home works as a developmental studies and language teacher, left behind her husband, two sons and her one-year-old daughter for one year to take up the once in a lifetime opportunity to study in Australia.
“It was hard, but I had to do it for my family’s future and for the future of my country,” she said.
“The [Australian Development Scholarship] program is very good because some people, like me, could never financially afford to do this. Most people have potential to learn, but insufficient funding.
“I’m very blessed to have studied my degree at this world class university,” she said.
Bond University Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Stable said it was an honour for any Australian university to host an Aus-Aid scholar, who he described as “the best of the best”.
“The Government’s Aus-Aid scholarships are extremely competitive and highly sought after.
“Students like Ntsotiseng bring a huge amount of expertise and knowledge into the classroom; and because they come from such diverse backgrounds, they have a whole different set of experiences to share.
“They also go on to become fantastic Alumni members and ambassadors of the University,” Professor Stable said.
Ntsotiseng has now returned to Lesotho, where she will work as a teacher for at least two years under the scholarship’s requirements.
She then hopes to further her qualifications by undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy in the United States.
“Ultimately, I want to live and work in Africa. It is in need of skilled personnel.
“I have a commitment to serve my nation, continue to teach and look for opportunities to share my skills,” she said.