Access to an education is something many young Australians take for granted. That’s not so for 21-year-old Mahdia, who has overcome huge barriers in order to secure a university education.
Mahdia is originally from Iran, where attending school was all but impossible due to social and financial barriers. Instead, she studied in private and went to an institute to learn English. But that all changed when she came to Australia by boat in 2013 with her mother and brothers.
SSI provided Mahdia and her family with essential support while their application for refugee status was assessed. Best of all, she was enrolled at Holroyd High School, where she caught up on her education with lots of hard work.
“Once I finished high school at Holroyd, I was given a full scholarship to study nursing at Sydney University and now I’m in my second year of nursing, and next year hopefully I will be graduating as a nurse,” she said.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Mahdia. Because of her visa status, she had to overcome many hurdles in order to continue her education after school.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. You’re working really hard but you don’t know if you’re going to get there or not. You see your friends, normal local students applying for uni. They don’t have to go through all the things you’re going through,” she said.
Mahdia is now working part-time as a child care educator. After she graduates, she plans to do a one-year graduate program to finalise her qualification. In future, she hopes to continue her education by studying for a master’s degree.
“I wish people would judge refugees from a different perspective. You might have not liked the way we came to Australia but we came here for safety, better education and better life. These all sound so cliché but you wouldn’t truly understand it unless you actually experienced not having those in your life,” she said.
“I wish people would understand that refugee is just a label and underneath it all we are all humans, we are all equal, and refugees have dreams and hopes for a better future like everyone else does.”
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