With support from a La Trobe University Access Scholarship, second-year student Sahar says she no longer has to put her dreams on hold.
The Bachelor of Science student migrated to Australia from Iran with her family when she was 16. Having arrived with very little English, she worked hard to complete her VCE at age 20, so she could pursue her dream of becoming a dentist.
“It’s all I’ve wanted to do for such a long time, to help people with their health,” Sahar says. “When I finish my undergraduate degree I want to study the Master of Dentistry at La Trobe Bendigo Campus.”
Despite her strong ambitions, financial pressures threatened to delay Sahar’s dream as she believed she had no other choice but to take time off to work so she could support herself.
“I was stressed because I wanted to continue studying but didn’t know how I could,” Sahar says. “I was travelling to University from Dandenong, which could take two hours one way, and this added a lot of extra stress because it was expensive and took up study time.”
“I knew that living closer to uni could make a big difference,” she says.
Thanks to generous supporters who gave to La Trobe’s FutureMaker Fund, Sahar received financial assistance to live at Graduate House, one of La Trobe’s student residences for mature-age students.
The 23-year-old says the scholarship, combined with a network of support services at La Trobe, helped her settle into university life with confidence.
“My grades have improved now because I’m not worrying as much and I can be more focused on my studies,” Sahar says. “And I’ve been getting help from a student adviser and the diversity office which makes it all much easier for me. It’s been wonderful.”
Sahar says she receives extra encouragement from her mother, a teacher, who understands the value of education. “That’s all she wanted for me and she’s really proud that I am pursuing my dream,” she says. “I know La Trobe has so many opportunities for me and I want to make the most of it.”