View all news

Meet your 2023 Gold Coast Mayor’s Student Ambassadors


Jessica Nelson
13 April 2023

Three Southern Cross University Gold Coast students have been appointed to the prestigious role of Mayor’s Student Ambassador for 2023.

Mrisha Upadhyay, Isaac Hawkins and Johnny Zhang at the Gold Coast Mayoral Chambers for the Civic Ceremony inducting the new cohort of Mayor’s Students Ambassadors

With the program marking its tenth year, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate officially inducted 20 ambassadors representing 13 countries and 10 institutions.

Among them, Southern Cross University’s Mrisha Upadhyay from Nepal, Johnny (Binqiang) Zhang from China, and Gold Coast local Isaac Hawkins representing Australia.

The Mayor’s Student Ambassador program offers students a range of exciting and unique experiences that will deliver rich storytelling content for the Gold Coast education sector, showcasing Australia’s Favourite Classroom to the rest of the world.

Master of IT student Mrisha Upadhyay said being accepted into the “amazing and prestigious” program was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We will be doing a leadership program with the mayor himself and will learn about how the city is run which is an amazing opportunity,” she said.

“I am really looking forward to learning more about Indigenous culture and knowledge from local elders. We will also take part in workshops around mental resilience, leadership conversations, a meet and greet with artists ahead of Swell Sculpture Festival, and philanthropic events like Cooking for a Cause.

“As a coding and back-end IT specialist I decided to study my Masters at Southern Cross to extend my knowledge and expertise in User Experience and Design and I am really loving the course so far – the tutors are so knowledgeable always so willing to help. I’ve been able to take part in the Bright Futures Mentorship Program with a product manager from American Express and I'm now working as an Assistant webmaster intern in a Brisbane-based company.

“Coming from a landlocked country (Nepal) I also wanted to be as close to the beach as possible with nice weather year-round and good hikes, and Southern Cross offered everything I wanted. I love how the Gold Coast is growing and there’s so much opportunity here without having to be in a major capital city. I’m making friends from all over the world, and excited about promoting the city as a study destination.”

Master of Social Work Student Johnny Zhang said becoming a Mayor’s Student Ambassador was an opportunity to challenge himself and to grow in his confidence and create deeper connections within the Gold Coast community.

“I feel really lucky to have this opportunity and I think it really sunk in when we were invited to the formal ceremony with the Mayor, and I was feeling awestruck by the calibre of all the students in the room and the mentorship we will be receiving from the City’s leaders,” said Johnny.

“The ambassadors all bring their unique stories and perspectives and I’m looking forward to building on the different connections with people from different countries, cultural backgrounds and professional areas, and participating in so many different activities on the Gold Coast.

“My undergraduate degree in China was in Literature, and when I received a few university offers in Australia for postgrad study I chose Southern Cross because I’d previously visited the Gold Coast on a working holiday visa and it really is my dream place – the beaches, the forests and national parks, and the welcoming community.

“Southern Cross offers a very comprehensive Master’s program and I’m enjoying learning a brand-new perspective on many topics, and the lecturers are very helpful with advice and resources every time I reach out to them. There are many activities on offer at Southern Cross as well, such as beach volleyball and volunteering opportunities.”

For double degree Bachelor of Business and Laws student Isaac Hawkins, becoming a Mayor’s Student Ambassador and representing the Gold Coast was a “great honour” involving VIP experiences, personal development opportunities, cultural happenings and professional networking events.

“I am excited to connect with industry leaders and other professionals and place myself in the best position for future opportunities,” Isaac said.

“This position will provide the opportunity to lead and facilitate activities across the city for government representatives while working with people from different perspectives and opinions. I am hoping to learn the workings of the Gold Coast, what success looks like for the Gold Coast and what the future of the Gold Coast – and higher education in particular – looks like.”

Media contact

Sharlene King, Media Office at Southern Cross University +61 429 661 349 or [email protected]