As published in The Naracoorte Herald
Written by The Naracoorte Herald.
Photo: Worthy Winner: Scholarship winner Asia Mohebi (right) with Soroptimists member Angela Willsmore.
For most school leavers, the thought of moving to the city to continue tertiary education at university is a daunting one. For Naracoorte High School year 12 graduate Asia Mohebi, it is something she has been working towards since she was a child growing up in Afghanistan.
Asia is the very worthy recipient of the 2019 Soroptimist International Naracoorte Denise Grieve scholarship. She has had to overcome more challenges than most to achieve her goal of university education. She recently sat down with local Soroptimist member Angela Willsmore to tell her story:
Asia grew up in Afghanistan, in what she describes as a small town called Dahi Chupan, which has a population of approximately 8500 people. It is part of the larger city of Zabul, population 300,000, near the border with Pakistan. She lived with her family of six sisters and two brothers.
During the war in her home country, she observed many jets flying across the sky. This experience sparked an interest in becoming a fighter jet pilot. However, upon seeing people with heart and other health problems, she decided medicine, and in particular cardiology, was her real interest.
She left Afghanistan during the war and headed for Pakistan, where she lived with her siblings and sister in law for seven years.
She then arrived in Naracoorte in March 2017 on a visa sponsored by her brother, who had emigrated earlier and was working in the local vineyards.
On arrival in Australia, she had not been to a formal school for the seven years she had lived in Pakistan. She commenced year 11 at Naracoorte High School and found it very hard to begin with, especially learning English. She had tried to teach herself in Pakistan by reading English language biology and chemistry textbooks and asking a teacher in a neighbouring house to translate the English.
She credits local woman Marie Davis with helping to get her English up to speed, taking extra classes with her every week.
Despite the language barriers, Asia took on a challenging subject load to gain her SACE, including Essential English, Essential Maths, Biology, Chemistry and an additional English subject. She excelled at school, achieving Dux in year 11 Maths and the Premier’s Reading Challenge Award in year 12. This is truly remarkable, considering the lack of formal education for many years before arriving in Australia.
Asia successfully completed her SACE and has been accepted into a three year Bachelor of Health and Medical Sciences degree at the University of Adelaide, and hopes to study medicine after that.
She has never lived in Adelaide. In fact, she has spent very little time there. She is worried about navigating the city and being away from her family who are all in Naracoorte. However, everything about Asia indicates that she is going to manage this transition successfully, just as she has managed the other challenges she has faced throughout her life so far.
When asked about the difference between her life in Pakistan compared to Australia, she replied that she had many more opportunities for education in Australia.
She is looking forward to studying and learning new things at university. She is fully committed to her studies and incredibly grateful for the scholarship money, which will go towards her tuition fees for university.
Soroptimist International Naracoorte are very proud to award the scholarship to such a worthy winner, and a student who truly epitomises many of the goals of the organisation and our scholarship, in particular to empower and enable women and girls through education. We look forward to watching Asia’s progress in years to come.