Rukie was born in Liberia during the civil war. She remembers it as a very hard place to grow up – let alone receive an education.
“Whenever there was fighting or riots, we had to stop school,” she said. “People also want to take advantage of you when you're a child or teenager, so you fear for your safety. My family had to live behind the gates of the US Embassy for safety.”
It meant that for the first years of Rukie’s schooling, her family had to move constantly to avoid being captured by soldiers. She also had to support her mum, who was forced to bring up Rukie and her younger siblings on her own.
Despite this hardship, Rukie never gave up on her dream of getting to university. She knew education brought opportunity and was the key to changing her life.
Moving to Australia
Rukie was 16 when her mum was granted asylum in Australia. The plan was for her children to follow. While Rukie cared for her three younger siblings ahead of their departure for Australia, the Ebola crisis hit.
“It was a really scary time. There was a family who lived near us. Every single person in the household died from the virus.”
When Rukie and her siblings finally made it safely out of Liberia, the relief of being reunited with their mother was enormous. But it wasn’t an easy path ahead. Rukie had to help care for her younger sisters and brother. At the same time, she was searching for a way to further her education.
The scholarship that changed her life
Rukie’s dream was to study science and pharmacology, to help save the lives of women and children in countries like Liberia. However as an international student, she was expected to pay as much as $30,000 for just one year of her degree.
Through an asylum support service, Rukie learned about our scholarship program here at Monash. She applied straight away – and waited. She said it was hard to think of anything else.
“I kept emailing for news,” she said. “One day I got the call to say Monash had agreed to offer me a scholarship. I was really happy. I couldn't believe my story could change so suddenly. My mum was really surprised and so happy.
Everybody told us it takes time for everything to come around, maybe even years. But I have the opportunity to study now, and this will change my entire life.”
It’s thanks to the generosity of Monash Alumni, who donate to the University’s Achieving Potential Scholarship program that Rukie received that phone call that paved the way for an entirely new future – one where she has the opportunity to be everything she wants to be in the world.
“Supporting young people to achieve a high level of education will come back to us as a society in a positive way, and by having so many people investing in students’ education, we can put an end to people being held back by financial hardships and the circumstances they find themselves limited by.” Ellie, Regular Donor
These scholarships are funded by alumni and donors, and aim to address the inequalities in our world. To provide access to education to all people, regardless of circumstance.
To change lives – for good.
Rukie is now soaring through her third year of her double Bachelor of Law (Honours) and Bachelor of Science degree. She’s grateful to all of the donors who supported her throughout her degree.
“This support has changed my life,” she said. “The opportunity to study is going to impact my family and Australian society as a whole. You’ve shown me no situation is forever. You just need determination to change it, and other people's help.”
A sincere thank you to all alumni who donate each year to support our scholarship program. To make a tax deductible donation, visit our website.