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Surrey student hopes to inspire other Afghan girls after winning $100K Loran Scholarship

Muhaddisa Sarwari, 17, aims to be a lawyer, potentially focusing on human rights law

Muhaddisa Sarwari was on her way to her younger brother’s soccer game when her phone started to ring.

It was a Toronto area code. Being on the shortlist for the prestigious 2023 Loran Scholarship, this was the call the 17-year-old Fraser Heights Secondary student had been anxiously awaiting for weeks.

She didn’t know what to expect.

“You never know, because they call you… if you get it or you don’t,” she said.

She got the scholarship.

Her brother screamed in excitement. Her mom became emotional, and Muhaddisa felt a weight lift off her shoulders.

“I was just ecstatic,” she said.

Muhaddisa has not always had the same access to education as most Canadians take for granted. Muhaddisa and her family are Hazara refugees from Afghanistan. They migrated for years before they came to Surrey from Indonesia three years ago.

She told the Now-Leader that this scholarship means everything to her. Valued at $100,000 over four years, it includes a living stipend, a tuition waiver at select universities, mentorship, and more.

“It just means the fact that I get the support that I need to follow my dreams to chase my dreams, but also while helping my community and helping uplift others,” Muhaddisa said.

One of her biggest motivations, she said, is to show the world that Afghan girls are capable and can do anything they set their minds to if they are given the proper support.

In December 2022, the Taliban banned all female students from attending universities. Muhaddisa said she can see herself in these girls.

“If we (Afghan girls) are given the opportunities, we can excel, we can reach lengths that no one has ever seen before.”

As for what’s next, Muhaddisa is planning to go to the University of British Columbia in the fall to study political science.

Her dream is to be a lawyer, potentially focusing on human rights law.

She knows what it is like to arrive in a country as a refugee with your documents but being unsure of what to do next.

“So I really want to get into that field to be able to help other families who were in my shoes, and that I would give them the support that we never got.

“I don’t want them to go into what my family went through.”

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Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I started with Black Press Media in the fall of 2022 as a multimedia journalist after finishing my practicum at the Surrey Now-Leader.
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