When he arrived in Australia two years ago, Hybee Iyiade enrolled in a diploma of nursing to honour his late mother.

“My mum died in pain, and nothing could be done,” Mr Iyiade says. “The disease – liver cancer – killed her because we couldn’t diagnose her until it was too late.”

As Mr Iyiade cared for his failing mum in Nigeria, he decided to study nursing in her honour, to make her proud.

He’s now on the cusp of graduating and, in a sweet twist of fate, has been recognised as an international student of the year in the vocational education and training category of the Victorian International Education Awards.

“I can’t express my feelings with words,” Mr Iyiade says of his win.

“To me, it’s a symbol of hope. If I consider all that I’ve been through in my life, finding myself being celebrated is an encouragement to me.

“No matter what you’re going through in life, it’s just a stepping stone for better things to come – you can do anything, and be anywhere, you like.”

The Melton West man was among seven international students announced as winners of the 2015 international education awards last week.

My Iyiade was recognised for dedication and involvement with the Reach Community Church group, with which he helps young adults and migrants experiencing hardship to integrate into their new communities.

He received a scholarship of $10,000 towards his future studies in Victoria.