Born and raised in Iraq, Zahraa witnessed first-hand the impact of a failing healthcare system on her community as a result of ongoing violence and conflict. It’s an experience that inspired her to pursue medicine - and she wants to address the health inequities that exist, on a global scale.
We are so privileged to be living in Australia where many healthcare services are readily available. But there are still inequities that need to be addressed for many people - including those living with disability, intergenerational trauma or facing cultural and linguistic barriers.
Now in her final year of the Bachelor of Biomedicine in the School of Biomedical Sciences, Zahraa says it’s the support provided by the University and Hansen Scholarship Program, that made her transition to University from Western Australia much easier.
I had a mentor as part of the Peer Mentoring Program and through the Hansen Scholarship Program. They were supportive and I felt welcomed and at ease.
Completing her secondary schooling in Perth, Zahraa had to juggle study and extracurriculars - from first learning English, high school study, involvement on the student mental health committee to working part time in a pharmacy.
“It meant that I had to manage my time really well and be organised to get tasks done on time – this has definitely been the key to me being able to manage the workload at University,” Zahraa says.
Everyone will struggle with university at some stage whether due to workload or personal circumstances. Seeking support can make the journey a lot easier and prevent unnecessary anxiety and stress.
Zahraa has since shared her undergraduate experience with first year students through the Melbourne Peer Mentoring Program, mentoring students and giving them the same support she had received. She has also been part of the VCE Summer School program, tutoring VCE students.
“Being part of a program that fosters support for VCE students from lower SES has been very rewarding and I met many amazing and ambitious people along the way,” Zahraa says.