Born in Iran, to an Afghan family, Fatemeh Nourouzi grew up with very few opportunities open to her.
Her Hazara parents fled persecution in war-ravaged Afghanistan 40 years ago, resettling in Iran as refugees.
But their lives were still strictly controlled, they still lived with discrimination, and they weren’t even allowed to become citizens, instead needing to reapply for refugee visas every six months.
So, seeking a better, more stable life for their family, her parents applied to the International Organisation for Migration and resettled in Launceston in 2013.
A dedicated student, Fatemeh always knew she wanted to work in the medical field either as a dentist or a doctor and applied herself to achieving her goal.
I think I lacked the confidence for a while, my teachers said medicine was very hard to get into, I would need to put a lot of effort in, she said.
"Then, when I started at Launceston College I realised it was possible, the subjects I took, I found I really loved them."
When she first took the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) – a prerequisite for those applying to study medicine at the University of Tasmania – she was unsuccessful.
Undeterred, Fatemeh enrolled for year 13 at college instead of taking a gap year, determined to keep studying and take different subjects, including a University of Tasmania first year chemistry class.
In 2021, not only did Fatemeh improve on her ATAR (tertiary entrance score), she also earned one of the top 100 ATAR scores in Tasmania, and passed the aptitude test.
She was also awarded the Medical Council of Tasmania Medical Student Scholarship, which sees her receive $10,000 per year to support her throughout her five-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Tasmania.
Just getting the scholarship gave me so much confidence, knowing that I could make my dreams a reality, making it so much more achievable, she said.
The first three years of her degree are based in Hobart, so the scholarship helped with the cost of moving south and also means she is able to travel home to visit her family regularly.
The scholarship means Fatemeh can devote herself entirely to studying her degree, without the added pressure of needing to work to support herself.
It means I don’t have to sacrifice my study hours in order to work, I can just focus on being the best student I can be.
The final two years of her degree involve work placements at regional centres and Fatemeh hopes to return to Tasmania when she graduates and work as a doctor in the place that gave her and her family a new life.
“I have deep connections to this place and I picked the University of Tasmania because I wanted to stay in Tasmania to do my degree, not move interstate.
“I love the people here and I feel that I have a deep connection to this place. This is why I picked the University of Tasmania, because the people here did shape a big part of who I am today.
“But I also feel that this is the best university to give me the skills I need to continue working here when I graduate. The university provides a lot of practical experience as part of its course and it makes me feel very prepared and confident, which is something you won’t get in a lot of bigger universities.”
“There is also a really diverse mix of students here, international students, which is going to make me a more culturally competent doctor as well.”
Find out more about our scholarships. They can make a big difference to your university experience and set you on the pathway to success.