Where are they now – Saeeda Lodin, 2014 Accelerate scholar

As long as she can remember, Saeeda has had a dream to become a doctor. She held tight to this dream as an Afghan student growing up in Pakistan, where the road to university was paved with seemingly insurmountable cultural and financial barriers, then again when she and her family were forced to flee their home country as refugees.


‘All these problems and the threat to our lives were what made my family think about leaving those countries to come to Australia’, she says.

As a new arrival to Australia, she remembers the toughest part was starting a new school in a new country and doing it all in a new language. Together with her siblings, she spent a year in an intensive English language school before joining the local high school in 2013.

Fast-forward to 2018 and we’re thrilled to learn that Saeeda is well on her way to achieving her dream. As a 2014 ABCN Scholar she participated in the Accelerate program, which covers Years 11, 12 and the first year of further education or training. This included her own dedicated mentor and $7000 over the three-year period. On leaving school she received an ATAR of 95.5 (a whopping 25 points higher than she expected) and is now in her second year of Bio-Medical Science at Monash University which offers direct entry to Medicine after completion.

We chatted with Saeeda recently who says she recognises how important the mentoring and financial support of the Accelerate scholarship has been to her success.

‘My mentor helped to guide me when I had no idea about the VCE. As new arrivals to Australia I couldn’t get that help from my parents’, she says. ‘She helped me realise what my weaknesses were but she managed to highlight strengths at the same time. She taught me to have faith in myself and confidence in my abilities to do well but she also helped me to not stress out – which was the thing I needed most at the time.

This is the one of the best experiences you can have – talking to all the different students and professionals, learning about their journeys and sharing experiences about how they overcame difficulties – it all helps you realise you’re not alone and that things are possible.’

You can help other young students like Saeeda achieve their potential. Donate today or before 30 June to claim a tax-deductible donation in this financial year.

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