Ten refugee students studying at a number of high schools and a TAFE colleges in the Hunter have been announced as winners of special educational scholarships which provide financial assistance and mentoring to help them with their studies.
The not-for-profit organisation, Mentor Support Network (MSN), and the sponsoring financial institution, The Mutual Bank, presented the students with their scholarship certificates at a recent ceremony.
Chair of MSN's Refugee Scholarship Committee, Pat O'Flaherty, said it was pleasing that two local community focused organisations such as the Network and The Mutual Bank were joining forces to support a successful program for refugee students.
"The Mutual Bank is providing the funding for the 10 refugee scholarships and its Finance Officer, Martha Nyabadza, will mentor one of the students," said Pat.
The 10 students are: Jawad Ahmad (20 years) - Callaghan College, Mohamad Aljomoaa (18) - Callaghan College, Maureen Dushime (17) - St Francis Xavier College, Yasamin Ebrahimi (17) - St Francis Xavier College, Narges Eftekhari (16) - Callaghan College, Julia Khalifeh (25) - Newcastle TAFE, Immaculee Kirenga (18 years) - Callaghan College, Abdullah Marem Kool (19) - Callaghan College, Amos Okumu (16) - St Francis Xavier College, Sozdar Sarokhan (16) - Callaghan College.
Pat said the scholarships assist marginalised students to have equal access to high school resources and technology (uniforms, ancillary fees, excursions, books, computers, equipment, software and internet access).
"Students from a refugee background can lack access to a range of positive role models and mentors to support their expectations, aspirations and career goals. So, a valued component of the support is a 13-week mentoring program, which for some students can be as fundamental as how to open and manage a bank account through to managing their scholarship funding or more complex mentoring about life and career choices," he said.
The Mutual Bank CEO Geoff Seccombe said the scholarships make a real difference to young people and mentoring is a great professional and personal development opportunity for The Mutual Bank's staff.
"We're about investing in the Hunter and these scholarships are a great investment in the potential of some of our newest community members," Mr Seccombe said.