Mentors encourage refugee kids to apply for university places

For many migrant teenage boys university is a pretty foreign concept; they’re either new to Australia, having come here as a refugee, or they’re the first in their family to contemplate higher education.


It was no surprise then that the Year 10 students at Blacktown Boys High School were full of questions: what courses do Australian universities teach?

What marks would they need? What was the point of going to university? And how else could they get there if their marks fell short?

Enter the mentors: Macquarie University runs a program where students give up their Friday afternoons to set their young counterparts straight.

Omar Samadi was there for the first time. The fourth-year Law and Commerce student knows the impact mentoring can have. He’s a former refugee who was inspired to apply for university after being mentored himself, when he was 15.

“The person who mentored me was a medical student from the University of Sydney and the persona that he gave off just blew away all my stereotypes and pre-conceived notions that I had of medical students,” he said.

“I thought they were all socially awkward”.

“Geeks, but this guy was over six foot tall, he seemed to have a good grasp on life, he seemed to be very physically fit, very approachable, very sociable. He introduced himself, sat me down and said ‘so what do you know about uni?’. I said ‘I don’t know much about uni’ so he was someone I could look up to at that time. He told me about the extra-curricular life and the added benefits of going. Not just academically, but socially and personally because you learn so much that’s got nothing to do with academics and a career, but about you as a person.”

So if you’re the doctor who studied at Sydney Uni about a decade ago and inspired Omar with your non-geekiness and tales of cool university life, take a bow.


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