Meet the Team
Meet the Study Cairns and Cairns Student Hub team who work with members, stakeholders, external partners, along with international students living, working and studying in Cairns.
Danny Lopez - Student Hub Assistant
I am originally from Colombia and grew up in Bogota. I graduated as a Business Administration Technologist and I decided to continue my career doing a Bachelor at Universidad de La Sabana.
As part of my dream to study overseas and taking advantage of the international agreements of my university, I decided to do two semesters of exchange at JCU Cairns, falling in love with Cairns and Australia, so much so that I have been living in Cairns for almost five years. What I love the most about Cairns is the quality of life, the perfect balance between my studies, work and social life, with it being an affordable city with plenty of natural activities to do around the region.
Being part of Study Cairns for me is a pleasure and an opportunity to be involved in the education sector, which I am really passionate about! I have always related to this industry. In Colombia, I used to work in the student’s induction, coordinating the volunteer’s staff, and in the logistics of events and functions.
At the Cairns Student Hub, where I have worked since 2018, I have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learn about different cultures. When I first visited the Hub, I was impressed that a centre provides support to international students for free, which reflects on the importance of international education in Australia.
I love being part of the Hub where I can help other students through my experience because I am one of them, I do understand the challenges that we can face being far from home. But, so too, it’s important to note how much I learn from other students. Each student has a story to share and I have discovered marvellous people with amazing talents.
Tathiana Mota – Student Engagement Manager
Growing up in Brazil as an Amazon girl, I spent my holidays outdoors and often bumped into international travellers. These experiences shaped my love for nature and sparked my curiosity about cultures. At 8 years-old I was hopelessly in love with languages and my parents had no choice and engaged an English tutor.
Ten years later there I was out in the world by myself for the first time, as an exchange student in the USA. I didn’t know it, but this life-changing experience would shape my whole life and career. Back in Brazil, I volunteered in the non-profit education sector, trained and mentored hundreds of professionals and managed innovative projects.
My professional career has allowed me to become an ambassador for International Education programs. It feels great every time I learn that one of my students has embarked on successful international careers.
In Australia, I took my International Education career to the next level, where I have met so many talented professionals and learned so much. My role at Study Cairns has really been a privilege – it brings together everything I enjoy: my passion for education, my commitment to provide students with the best Australia experience and the chance to contribute to future bright careers, all in this tropical paradise of Cairns!
Michelle Behsman - Executive Officer
I grew up on a sheep grazing property in rural NSW and developed a passion for regional Australia and its wildlife. Due to the remoteness of the family property, I attended boarding school to complete my secondary education, and can empathise with the challenges international students face when far from home, friends and family connections.
Since completing a Bachelor of Business – Hospitality Management at UQ, I have represented regional tourism operators in the Whitsundays and Tropical North Queensland for more than 15 years. I started working with Study Cairns as part-time Executive Officer in 2016 and love welcoming international students into the Cairns community. I have enormous respect for students who choose Cairns as their study destination and understand the impact of undertaking education in a foreign country. I am committed to assisting students in their personal and professional development and am passionate about ensuring that students in Cairns have a positive, memorable experience they will cherish forever.
Janine Bowmaker - President & Managing Director of Banora International Group
Born in Victoria, I spent my school years in rural NSW, riding horses, working on the farm, competing in numerous sports and debating as well as building my outdoor and leadership skills through the Scout movement. My interest for foreign languages and culture was ignited after hosting an international exchange student from Japan, which eventually led to me moving there where I worked and studied for several years. Using Japan as a base, I also travelled extensively to other countries forming connections and relationships worldwide.
After I returned to Australia, further studies enabled me to achieve my goal of creating an inbound tourism company, Banora International Group (BIG), providing study and learning experiences in and out of the classroom. Proudly celebrating 25 years in 2021 as a leading study tourism provider in Cairns, International Education and Tourism remains my passion, and I’m especially thankful for the incredible company our team has built together.
Volunteering and giving back to the community is an integral part of my persona, and I’m honoured to lead the Study Cairns team and its membership, and to be an advocate for international education in Cairns. Our international student community in Cairns is incredible and is an asset to our multi-cultural region.
It gives me much pleasure to help develop initiatives such as the community-driven #CairnsCares campaign and to work strategically with other stakeholders in Cairns to assist our region’s recovery.
Image: Janine Bowmaker accepts the COVID-19 Community Care Award from Mayor Manning in the 2021 Cairns Regional Council Australia Day Awards.
Fiona Harper - Digital Content Manager
My background is in writing, communications and digital content development. I started working with Study Cairns in 2016 when the international education sector was seeing mammoth growth with over 30,000 international students visiting Cairns each year to further their studies.
Working with the Study Cairns Executive and the Student Hub team, I really enjoy developing a community along with the creative aspect of the role. Managing website and social media content while building an engaged community, one of the most rewarding aspects is being able to showcase our beautiful region and the incredible educational opportunities available to international students.