A group of 10 refugee students studying at a number of high schools and a TAFE college in the Hunter have been announced as winners of special educational scholarships, which provide financial assistance and mentoring to help them with their studies.
The not-for-profit organisation, Mentor Support Network (MSN), and the sponsoring financial institution, The Mutual Bank, presented the youngsters with their certificates at a ceremony in Newcastle this week.
Chair of MSN’s Refugee Scholarship Committee Pat O’Flaherty said it was pleasing that two local community-focussed parties such as the Network and The Mutual Bank were joining forces to back a successful program for refugee students.
“The Mutual Bank is providing the funding for the 10 refugee scholarships and its finance officer, Martha Nyabadza, will mentor one of the pupils,” he explained.
The students who received their scholarship at the ceremony at the Newcastle Harness Club’s function centre were:
- Jawad Ahmad (20 years) – Callaghan College Jesmond
- Mohamad Aljomoaa (18) – Callaghan College Jesmond
- Maureen Dushime (17) – St Francis Xavier College Hamilton
- Yasamin Ebrahimi (17) – St Francis Xavier College Hamilton
- Narges Eftekhari (16) – Callaghan College Waratah Campus
- Julia Khalifeh (25) – Newcastle TAFE
- Immaculee Kirenga (18 years) – Callaghan College Jesmond Campus
- Abdullah Marem Kool (19) – Callaghan College Jesmond
- Amos Okumu (16) – St Francis Xavier College Hamilton
- Sozdar Sarokhan (16) – Callaghan College Waratah Campus
Mr O’Flaherty said the scholarships assisted marginalised students to have equal access to high school resources and technology (uniforms, ancillary fees, excursions, books, computers, equipment, software and internet access).
“Those from a refugee background can lack access to a range of positive role models and mentors to support their expectations, aspirations and career goals,” he added.
“So, a valued component of the support is a 13-week mentoring program, which for some students can be as fundamental as how to open and manage a bank account through to managing their scholarship funding or more complex mentoring about life and career choices.”
The Mutual Bank CEO Geoff Seccombe said mentoring was a great professional and personal development opportunity for its staff.
“We’re about investing in the Hunter and these scholarships are a terrific investment in the potential of some of our newest community members,” he stated.
The refugee scholarship program is also being supported by Konekt (career development) and Northern Settlement Services (support services for refugees).