For Syrian refugee Philip, working in humanitarian law had been his dream from a young age.
Philip was a practising lawyer in Syria before conflict broke out in 2011. When civil war erupted, Philip had to abandon everything – including his law career. He escaped Syria with his wife and mother-in-law, arriving in Australia on a refugee visa in 2018.
“We had to decide quickly. In just one week, we had to leave. I didn’t realise what I was doing until I was out of the country. I’d left behind my parents, all my memories, all my friends. I’d spent more than 30 years in Syria. It wasn’t easy.”
With the help of a career advisor, Philip searched for a university where he could complete his Juris Doctor degree – the basis for admission to legal profession in Australia. At La Trobe, he found a supportive, culturally diverse environment.
“As a new arrival in Australia, it wasn’t just important for me to find a place to study law. I also needed a place where I felt welcomed. The staff at La Trobe really considered my situation as a refugee who needs a lot of support. From the first moment, I felt this is my place.”
Philip still remembers the moment he received an email confirming his La Trobe scholarship. He was teaching his wife to drive.
“I was telling her to go right, go left and use the indicator. Then I shouted, ‘STOP!’ I just shouted from joy! I couldn’t believe I’d been accepted for the scholarship. It was a blessing.”
Thanks to generous donors, Philip’s scholarship provided the financial support he needed. He was able to buy books, stationery and a laptop to study online. As he says in his short video below, it also gave him a sense of hope and belonging.
“The scholarship means a lot to me. It means ‘you are welcome’. That regardless of your financial situation, you have a right to study and achieve your dreams.”
100 per cent of donations to the La Trobe Scholarship Fund go directly to support students who face financial hardship to start their studies, including refugees on permanent humanitarian visas.
- $150 pays for a monthly public transport ticket
- $300 covers the cost of textbooks and academic supplies for one semester
- $1,000 contributes to the cost of essential technology to study online
- $5,000 funds a La Trobe Foundation Scholarship for a student for one year
Today, Philip is on track to practise humanitarian law in Australia. He’s completed the first year of his Juris Doctor degree, while supporting his wife to raise their three children. And in his spare time, he volunteers for an organisation that helps refugees and asylum seekers in Melbourne’s north.
When a refugee like Philip flees their home, they leave behind their possessions, property and friends. The support of a scholarship will make sure they don’t leave behind their career dreams, too.