Meet our 2023 ANU Alumni Awards Finalists

2023 International Alumnus/Alumna of the Year
10 Nov 2023

Each year, the ANU Alumni Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of our most remarkable alumni. This year, our 2023 International Alumnus/Alumna of the Year award finalists are improving lives in the global community by fighting against corruption, increasing access to healthcare, empowering women, preventing domestic violence, and much more.

Kobchart Jaraswimol (He/Him)(BEc ‘16)

Hailing from Thailand, Kobchart Jaraswimol demonstrates unwavering commitment to combating corruption in his country, and empowering his community. As a student at ANU, Kobchart founded the Thai Youth Anti-Corruption Network. Leveraging the power of social media, he united over 4,000 students from 90 Thai universities in the fight against corruption. Since graduating, Kobchart has continued his work to combat corruption, attracting support from the United Nations Development Programme and presenting at UN conferences to raise awareness.

Dr Shamaruh Mirza (She/Her)(PhD ‘10)

Dr Shamarah Mirza, originally from Bangladesh, holds an impressive portfolio as a regulatory scientist in the Australian Public Service (APS). Before joining the APS, Dr Mirza conducted research on cytokine regulation mechanisms in allergy and leukemia, and cardiac and skeletal muscle function at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU. Her commitment to providing underserved communities with access to quality healthcare has also led her to conduct research at the International Center for Diarrhea Disease Research Bangladesh. Dr Mirza’s positive impact extends beyond her career; as co-founder of SiTara’s Story, a non-profit organisation, she improves the lives of women and children from multicultural backgrounds in Australia and rural Bangladesh.

Ugyen Namgay (He/Him)(GDipPA ’13, MPubPol ’13)

Ugyen Namgay is a former Bhutanese Member of Parliament (MP) who served at the National Council of Bhutan (2018-2023) and has played a significant role in improving the livelihood of Bhutanese people, especially vulnerable groups. Using his platform as an MP, Ugyen has supported important changes in Bhutan including the legalisation of LGBTQIA+ marriage and the amendment of the Bhutanese penal code’s definition of human trafficking to meet international standards. Ugyen played a crucial role in strengthening connections between Australia and Bhutan as President of Australia Bhutan Association of Canberra (2013), Chairperson of Bhutan Australia Alumni Association and in his appointment as Australia Awards Ambassador to Bhutan.

Dr Suharti (She/Her)(PhD ’13)

Dr Suharti serves her community through various positions in the Indonesian Government, including the role of Deputy Governor of Jakarta City, Indonesia and the current post as Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology. As the first woman to hold this prestigious position, she has stood proudly and purposefully, working tirelessly to empower women, protect children, and address social issues. Dr Surhati’s commitment to better implement evidence-driven, gender-responsive, and collaborative planning and budgeting has led to the adoption of increasingly holistic national policy strategies in Indonesia.

Cynthia Villegas Canto (She/Her)(MIR ‘12)

Cynthia Villegas Canto is an ANU alumna making a remarkable impact in Mexico. For eight years she worked in an organisation dedicated to preventing and healing the consequences of domestic violence, using her leadership and sustainable planning expertise to increase fundraising revenue and execute activities. She served as a Board member of Family for Every Child, an international non-government organisation based in the UK. Since 2020, Cynthia has served the community as the Alliances & Sustainability Manager at Colectivo Tomate, a civil association that inspires communities to take action for transformation of their spaces.

Lily Wangchuk (She/Her)(MPubPol ‘00)

Lily Wangchuk stands out as a renaissance woman. She has been a diplomat, political leader, community leader and business leader. She began her career in 1994 as a diplomat, before joining the United Nations Development Program Bhutan in 2006. In 2013, she became the first woman to lead a national political party in Bhutan (Druk Chirwang Tshogpa), pushing for a more inclusive society by striving to create an enabling environment for happiness. She has also been a voice of women as a gender consultant and continues efforts to improve her community. This includes founding the National Cancer Society, the Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs and being the President of Soksoom Centre for Well-Being and Happiness. She is also a writer, and influential public figure in her country, and was among 15 women from across the globe honoured as one of the Top Global Women in 2013. 

This year finalists, their guests, and distinguished members of the ANU community will be invited to attend the ANU Alumni Awards reception held at the heritage Hyatt Hotel Canberra, on Monday 27 November. Join us as we announce the 2023 ANU Alumni Award recipients, and find out more here.


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