Filipino scholar receives award for academic excellence in Australia
Knoy Bite beamed with Filipino pride when she received the coveted Dean’s Honours List Award during the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE) awards ceremony on December 12, 2012. She was, after all, one of the only few Southeast Asian students recognised during the event.“The pride that a Filipino like me has received an award for academic excellence at a prestigious university in Australia is overwhelming. More than anything else, I wanted to be recognised as a Filipino scholar. Luckily, many of the people present during the ceremony were my former classmates who knew I came from the Philippines,” says Knoy.
In 2011, Knoy received the Australia Awards Scholarships for a master’s degree in Human Resource Management at the University of Melbourne. An HR practitioner for more than 25 years, Knoy considers the Australia Awards Scholarships as the perfect opportunity to further develop herself in her area of specialisation. Even before she left for the scholarship, she had already set her mind on making the most of her postgraduate program. “The Australian Government has given me the perfect opportunity and I told myself that I’ll give my best. Australia is ideal for someone like me who wants to specialise in HR because Australians really value the important contribution of the HR practice to the success of organisations. In fact, many books and journals on HR are localised from Australian studies.”
At the university, Knoy learned the value of updating her competencies as she dealt with the challenge of being a student again. “It was tough in the beginning because I’ve been away from school for a long time. As an experienced practitioner, I tended to mostly draw from what I learn in the course of my work. But in the academic world, you gain fresh perspectives through readings and participation in classroom discussions and other learning activities; you are kept abreast with new theories, concepts and ideas on the field. My professor told me I was strong in the application side but I should try to strive for a healthy blend of theory and practice.”
Knoy faced this challenge head on and focused on her studies. She credits her academic achievement to the inspiration she draws from being an Australia Awards scholar. She recalls how her unforgettable experience as a Filipino scholar in Australia inspired her to excel academically: “One time I was walking around Melbourne with my Australia Awards backpack when someone came up to me and said, ‘Oh, you’re an Australia Awards scholar…you must be really good!’ I told myself that I would live up to this reputation of excellence; I wanted to be worthy of the award.”
Prior to being an Australia Awards scholar, Knoy worked in various government and non-government institutions–including the Development Academy of the Philippines, Ramon Magsaysay Foundation and the Philippine Business for Social Progress among others–where she devoted herself to meaningful contributions in development work.
With a successful career to boast of, graduating at the top of her MA class seems to be another feather added to Knoy’s cap. But more than her academic achievement, what Knoy truly values is her renewed appreciation and enhanced competencies that she intends to use in assisting NGOs in developing their HR systems. “I’m very passionate about helping the NGO sector because I know that one of their major challenges is that they are unable to retain talent critical in their service delivery. Having worked in various NGOs in the past, I’ve seen the gap–the concept of HR has not gone beyond personnel administration activities. They need to focus more on motivating and developing their people–and I want to help improve their HR system with a fresh perspective on how things can be done better.”
Australia Awards Scholarships offer at least 120 scholarships slots each year to eligible Filipino professionals to pursue postgraduate studies in Australia’s premiere universities. Application for the next batch of Australia Awards for 2014 will be open from 01 February 2013 to 30 April 2013. Interested parties may contact the Philippine Australia Awards Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.australiaawardsphilippines.org for further information on the scholarship program.