Home' The Southern Cross : February 2017 Contents Page 8 February 2017
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Adapting to a new culture, a different
education system and learning English
were just some of the hurdles overcome
by refugees who completed their Year 12
studies in 2016.
Three students who spoke with The
Southern Cross said their ATAR results
could not have been achieved without the
support from their teachers and school
community... and a lot of hard work. They
are now all looking at continuing with
university studies, although that pathway is
sometimes difficult due to their citizenship
Mahtab Karimi achieved an ATAR of 96.50
and hopes to study medical radiation
imaging at the University of South
Australia, however she will need to put this
dream on hold until after she receives her
citizenship in July and becomes eligible for
Originally from Afghanistan, her family
fled the war and settled in Iran where
Mahtab was born and raised. Seeking a
better life and educational opportunities
for his family, her father made the journey
to Australia in 2011. Two years later he
was granted a permanent visa and he
sponsored the family to join him.
As the eldest child it was Mahtab’s
responsibility to take care of the family’s
needs in terms of language, even though
she had minimal English knowledge.
She studied English at Thebarton Senior
College and then attended Mary MacKillop
College in 2015 and 2016.
“I am constantly inspired by Mary
MacKillop’s story, where she overcame
much hardship to achieve her goals and
dreams. I would like the opportunity to
continue with my own dreams by starting
my university studies as soon as possible,”
With an ATAR of 89.70, Leila Yeganehmehr
also wants to attend university but said
obtaining a scholarship was her only
option as she couldn’t afford the fees.
“Unfortunately, as I’m an asylum seeker
there are so many barriers for me to study
in Australia. I hope to pass the English
test required for international students and
then be accepted for the asylum seekers’
scholarship,” she said.
Leila arrived in Australia three years ago
but without her academic records from
Iran she couldn’t apply for university.
The Dominican Sisters of the Holy Cross
Congregation supported her to reconnect
with schooling here. They formed a
partnership with St Mary’s College to
support Leila financially and in 2015 she
repeated Year 11 and then completed Year
12 in 2016 at age 21.
“During these two years of study at St
Mary’s I received so much help from my
teachers in many aspects such as the
language, the Australian educational
system and the Australian culture.
“To anyone who is reading this piece,
please do your best and never give up,”
Born in South Sudan, Acot Cikom’s results
are also impressive. With an ATAR of
92.55, including an A in ESL (English as a
second language) and A+ in society and
culture, she hopes to study in the medical
field in 2017.
During her time at St Dominic’s Priory
College she won the respect of staff
and her peers, being voted on the SRC
Executive in 2016. Acot was awarded a
special prize for being the most committed
student in ESL in Year 11 and last year
received the School Spirit Prize for her
contribution to the school community.
By Lindy McNamara
INSPIRATIONAL: Acot Cikom with Leila Yeganehmehr; and Mahtab Karimi (far left).
Photo: Nat Rogers
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