RMIT’s Asylum Seeker Scholarship is giving people fleeing their homeland in fear and hardship a bright future, thanks to an incredibly generous $5 million gift.
Here, scholarship recipients Sara and Sophia share their stories.
Sara knew three words of English when she arrived in Melbourne 10 years ago – sorry, hi and hello. Her family had fled persecution in Baghdad, Iraq after Sara was born. They moved to Cyprus for four years before seeking asylum in Australia, finally arriving in Melbourne via camps on Christmas Island and in Adelaide.
“Melbourne was my first normal home in a very long time,” Sara remembers.
The family settled in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and Sara completed secondary school at Pascoe Vale Girls College. Though academic and ambitious, as the holder of a Temporary Protection Visa Sara is not eligible for HECS funding and she thought university was out of reach.
“Because of my personal experience, I wanted to be a social worker to help others, but I knew it would be very difficult for me to go to university.” Sara had already decided RMIT’s Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) was the right path for her dream career in social work when she heard about RMIT’s Asylum Seeker Scholarships. Gaining the scholarship has enabled Sara to follow her chosen path.
It feels great. Without the scholarship I would not be attending university at all.
Not only does RMIT waive tuition fees, it recognises the cost of living challenges to students and the scholarship also provides a $15,000 living allowance to help students focus on their studies.
Fellow recipient Sophia says fleeing Burma when she was a child remains “the major event in my life”. It led her to Malaysia and Indonesia before Sophia and her mother sought asylum in Australia.
Sophia supported herself through her final year of high school working hard, with art in various forms always giving her comfort through uncertain times. Despite knowing she would have to pay full fees for a tertiary education due to her visa status, Sophia attended open days at various universities including RMIT, where she learned of RMIT’s Asylum Seeker Scholarships.
I knew RMIT was where I wanted to be. When you are in a position like mine, it can feel like you don’t really have options, so you just do whatever you can to make something happen.
Thanks to our most wonderful donor, a scholarship was awarded to Sophia and she is now studying RMIT’s Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) majoring in video and sound.
“It’s exactly what I wanted and the facilities are amazing, so I am very happy. I’m excited to be here working towards a degree and a good start in my adult life.”
Acknowledgement of Country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.
Acknowledgement of Country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.