From Syria; seeking a Undergraduate degree in Science and is enrolled at York University.
My name is Zena and I come from a city in Syria, called Salamieh. When I was ten years old, the Syrian war broke out and my life changed overnight. It made me have to fight for my education, so I did my best to continue studying as hard as I could.
I was raised in a small family of four. I have one sister, named Bushra and she is 6 years older than me. My mom used to be a French teacher and my dad owns a small business. I'm really close with and very proud of my sister because she is doing her post-graduate studies in medicine with a specialization in women's health. Both my parents studied literature in University and they find math hard to understand, which I find funny because I have always loved and done well in sciences.
Then two years ago, I left my family in pursuit of a better future and opportunities. I was able to study in Canada for 2 years because I achieved an international scholarship that provided financial support to girls from developing and war-torn countries. During this time, I have learned that the thing I want most in life, the thing that will truly change my future - is to continue my studies and to get the best education I can.
This past June, I am so proud to say that I completed my high school diploma. I finished 3rd in my graduating class and now I am eagerly anticipating my upcoming studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. I am 1 of 40 students admitted to York's, challenging Integrated Science program.
Why Should Donors Fund You?
Living under war circumstances was difficult. Yet it developed in me a fierce resilience and a desire to make a positive difference in the world. Thankfully, my hard work and determination were rewarded when I was selected as the global recipient of the World of Difference Scholarship from Trafalgar Castle School and the Spark of Hope Foundation, and was able to complete my final two years of high school in Canada.
At Trafalgar, I was not only offered exceptional academics and abundant opportunities to grow and thrive; I was also embraced by a warm and welcoming community of friends and teachers who believed in me from the very beginning of my journey at the school. I am proud to say that I graduated
high school on June 12th, placing third overall in academic standing and winning the Senior Science Award for highest overall achievement in the sciences. I felt immense pride and gratitude the day I graduated, knowing that my achievement was a demonstration to those who had believed in me and that their kindness and support was well placed.
As I look to begin University this September, I am faced with the reality that COVID-19 has changed our world, creating unexpected financial hurdles and limiting
opportunities to obtain funding for my studies. After travelling across the world and working so hard to earn a place in a challenging science program, I
am now faced with the high cost of international student tuition fees. York University has granted me a total of 13000 CAD worth of scholarships, in addition to a research position for the summer of 2021. The Spark of Hope Organization has also awarded me a 5000 CAD scholarship and my wonderful Canadian host family has generously offered to provide me with room and board. However, as an international student, my tuition fees are 28000 CAD alongside 3000 CAD for books and healthcare. By doing the math, I need CAD 6500.00 (4800.00 USD) per semester for my first year.
How Do You Plan to Payback?
As a winner of a generous scholarship dedicated for girls only and as a proud graduate from an all-girls high school, I aspire to give back to girls and women in my community as a way of returning a favour that transformed my life.
As I embark on this journey and as a learner advisor for Amala (formerly Sky School), which is a high school dedicated to providing accelerated learning programs for young refugees who missed schooling, I aim to help both design and facilitate courses developed specifically for refugees and refugee girls in particular. Driven by my belief in science and its ability to restore my community in Syria, I’m committed to contributing to the science education of a disadvantaged refugee girl through EdSeed.
Your donations will sincerely give me the opportunity to attend university in Canada, and my goal is that your generosity will also benefit hundreds of lives that will be influenced by the work my education and degree will allow me to do in the future. I look forward to sharing with you my personal updates on how your contributions will directly and positively impact my path at university and where this journey in life will take me.
Volunteer Work/Social Capital
Volunteering is what makes me feel valued in my community. In 2017, I volunteered for the TED international team to translate TED talks from English to Arabic. In addition, I participated in a TEDx translateathon event in Damascus, as one of only two participants from another province. The goal of the translated videos is to increase the Arabic content of TED talks and ensure a wider audience for ideas worth spreading.
The same summer, I was selected for a one-month camp experience in East Africa, where students from over 20 countries learned about each other and supported the local community. We did service in a primary school in Nairobi where our goal was to provide sustainable and long-term services while being challenged by limited time and financial capacity. My team set up a library, a soccer field and held workshops with students from all grades.
In my final year of High School, I volunteered as a French tutor, a position that not only allowed me to share my knowledge but also to motivate and model younger students. I used resourcefulness and creativity to make lessons entertaining and effective. I created stories, acronyms and tricks to help my tutees understand grammar and memorize new vocabulary.
Currently, I am also volunteering as a French tutor for a Grade 1 and Grade 4 student.
What Have You Done to Improve Yourself? Awards and Achievements
- Graduated High School with first class honours.
- Received the Science Merit Award for excellence in the science program.
- Received the Parent’s Guild Executive Award for outstanding personal achievement.
- Global Recipient of the World of Difference Scholarship 2018 – 2020: Selected by the Spark of Hope Organization to receive a full scholarship for 2 academic years, awarded to one girl from a developing country every year.
- York University Science Scholars Award 2020: Eligible applicants included both domestic and international students, entrance Scholarship and guaranteed paid summer research position.
- Completed Paper Airplanes Web Development program 2020.
- Received the Outstanding Achievement Award from Snowhawks skiing and snowboarding school 2019.