Mark Ruvendra K Thanapal, International Student of the Year 2021

Diploma of Accounting
International Student of the Year 2021
Destination Australia Scholarship recipient

Mark Ruvendra K. Thanapal credits five guiding principles in life for his success, being honesty, sincerity, discipline, hard work and dedication.

Growing up in Klang, Malaysia raised by a single parent father, Mark always dreamt of being an accountant. After completing school instead of pursuing his passion to study accounting circumstances saw him enter the workforce as a member of Malaysian Airlines cabin crew. This provided Mark with his first opportunity to visit Australia and where he felt a connection with the country. Mark’s career in the airline industry ended after an horrific accident while riding his bike left him with a long rehabilitation to recover from his injuries. Mark’s polished customer service skills provided entry into a position with Hilton Hotels and from there he steadily built a career in the hotel industry culminating in being Front Office Manager at Renaissance Hotel Kuala Lumpur servicing 910 rooms.

In early 2020 Mark came to Australia for a holiday to visit a friend, and then the pandemic hit throwing all his plans and career into uncertainty. Despite being ten years since he had last studied, when his friend suggested looking at study options at SuniTAFE, Mark leapt at the opportunity to finally study accounting.

On being awarded a prestigious Australian Government Destination Australia Scholarship, Mark said “It was the start of everything, a blessing before beginning which made a lot of things possible.” Mark says the scholarship allowed him to focus on his studies and establish strong study habits, giving him time to settle in.

Mark describes SuniTAFE accounting teacher, Paul Hartl, as an anchor to his success. “Teachers and staff have been very supportive, and amazing lecturers have contributed to my success with the right support and guidance.”

Mark was awarded SuniTAFE International Student of the Year for 2021 for exceptional results and ambassadorship. “It’s a feeling of satisfaction in achieving, good results are one thing, but winning an award is like the Oscars,” he remarked.

For new international students to SuniTAFE, Mark encourages them to make education their first priority and not to let anything else distract them from this goal. Mark recommends Mildura to international students whose purpose is to pursue education. “There are not so many distractions here as in cities with more healthy activities, people have work/life balance and there are so many clubs and teams in the area that are welcoming of new members,” said Mark.

A chance invitation when he was hitting a tennis ball against a wall led to Mark joining St Andrews Tennis Club and playing competition tennis for the club. Mark has also volunteered with St Vincent de Paul in Mildura. “People in Mildura have been so warm, supportive and welcoming. Coming here is the best decision you will make.”

Mark is currently working in the finance team at SuniTAFE and is responsible for a section of the team’s operations. At first, and especially during COVID, it was hard to find work, however Mark found opportunities on farms picking fruit and performing general farm hand labour as well as doing food deliveries where he would study in his car while waiting for orders. Although it was challenging to find professional work in his area of study, after completing the Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping and with persistence and networking, new opportunities were available to him.

With a five year goal of joining the financial industry and to become a Certified Practicing Accountant, Mark is looking to pursue a bachelor degree after completing his Advanced Diploma of Accounting. By living by his principles and with the support of the people around him, Mark is on a dream path to great successes.

“Australia is a gifted country, I am so thankful to be here.”