To see Seyedeh Sara Saeidi (known as Sara) working in her role as a support worker for Centacare, it is difficult to comprehend the route she has travelled to reach this point.
Sara is originally from Iran and moved to Australia six year’s ago after it became unsafe for her family to remain in her home country.
“I am from south Iran and my family and I are Arabs,” Sara said.
“The beautiful city of Ahwaz in which I was born turned into a very unsafe environment for my family and I. We experienced a lot of pressure. We were no longer allowed to wear our traditional clothing or speak our language and it became very dangerous for us.
“I came to Australia by boat and we were met by Immigration Officials and the police who sent us initially to Christmas Island. There were certain rules in place at that time and they told us we might be sent back to Iran but after three months we were moved to a detention centre in Adelaide. We stayed there for 11 months before being transferred to Brisbane on a community detention visa.
“I have always looked for challenges in my life. Coming to Australia by boat was the biggest challenge I have ever been put through. I had lost my home and had to stop going to school for a period of time. Although I was in an uncertain situation, I worked hard to overcome this setback and quickly learned how to grow from the experience. I did not let this personal misfortune interfere with my future aspirations.”
On arriving in Brisbane Sara took a course to improve her English and attended Yeronga State High for her education. During that time, she started considering what options might be available to her after finishing school.
“I was thinking I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare because I am passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. Caring for people and helping others live a meaningful life is very satisfying and rewarding to me.”
After graduating from school, Sara’s financial circumstances made it difficult for her to enrol in university as she was considered an international student and therefore did not have the funds up-front to study a degree.
“As a person seeking asylum, a good education was my primary goal at the time in my life and I felt disheartened when that goal became seemingly impossible.
“I was researching different programs and found out about the Mater Education Open Day. So, I went along and asked lots of questions about whether they would accept my visa and whether I could study with them.
“I was so happy to find out that I could be accepted into the Diploma of Nursing course and that they offered one of only a very few scholarships that I might be able to apply for. This opportunity gave me a wonderful start in transforming my dreams into reality.”
Sara was fortunate to apply and be accepted for a Refugee Scholarship to study Mater Education’s 18-month Diploma of Nursing course. Eight scholarships are provided by Mater Education each year to those from a refugee or indigenous background.
Throughout the course Sara really enjoyed spending time with patients.
“I enjoyed spending my time with them and providing nursing care that makes their stay at the hospital more comforting and meaningful. From this, I received great pleasure in observing their appreciation towards me. Knowing that I can be that person who can provides a little bit of support to them in a situation where they are most vulnerable meant the world to me.”
While Sara is currently working as a support worker at Centacare, she isn’t ready to stop studying just yet.
“If I was given an opportunity to continue furthering my education, I would want to complete my Registered Nurse Training and perhaps then look at other options within the healthcare realm involving medicine, radiology or even women’s health.
“I am grateful to Mater Education for giving me this opportunity and I believe that my hard work and determination will open more doors for me so I can continue to pursue my dreams.”