Asma's story

“Our dreams, hopes and freedom came at a huge price. But now I can fight for my community and rebuild a future in Australia.”


“After we lost our father, my sister and I pledged we would become doctors to help others. But by the time I was 13 years old, it had become too dangerous to go to school in Afghanistan. That’s when my mother decided we had to leave the country. She’d seen the war shatter her own dreams for an education, and refused to let the same thing happen to her daughters.”

Asma and her family came to Australia by boat and they spent around three months on Christmas Island and even more months in a detention camp in Darwin.

When Asma and her family finally made it to Melbourne, the local community welcomed them with open arms.

Determined, Asma attended high school in Melbourne, but soon realised that if she wanted to go to University she would have to pay full international fees to attend university.

I gained a high ATAR, but I couldn’t even show my mum the university offer letters. Seeing those tuition fees would have stressed her out too much. When I learned that Monash offered scholarships. I decided to repeat Year 12 so I could apply. It was a small chance – but it was the best chance I had.”

Asma completed secondary school with a high ATAR and received an award in maths and physics.  Her university dreams were in reach, but still not attainable without an Achieving Potential Scholarship.

When I received my scholarship offer, I screamed and cried with joy. It was a wonderful moment. My mum, sister and I were crying and hugging each other. Three generations of my family have dreamed of studying at university and I was the first to change it.”

Thanks to the support of the Monash community, Asma has since graduated with a Bachelor of Science, and now works at Monash University where she also assists in raising funds for the scholarship program. Her hope is that through this work, others may also be afforded the same opportunity to access tertiary education. And her sister Mariam also graduated with a Bachelor of Science and is continuing her studies in a Bachelor of Medical Science and Doctor of Medicine.

You can support change for future generations by making a gift towards Monash scholarships.

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Mariam and Asma at their graduation ceremony
Mariam and Asma at their graduation ceremony

Future of hope

Sisters Asma and Mariam both fled Afghanistan with their mother. You can read Mariam’s story in Monash Life - Refugee spirit fires a future of hope.

Read more