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Scholarship Gives Hope to International Student

July 30, 2012


“When you do something good for others, you can transform someone’s life.”

These words of gratitude from Nafiseh Ebrahimi, a grad student from Iran, reflect an appreciation for what’s come her way in the past year.

After completing a master’s degree in material science in Iran, she applied to several overseas schools to complete her PhD. Then in 2011, Nafiseh received the news that would change her life. She had been accepted into the doctorate program in chemistry at Western.

“I was going from a lab in Iran to one of the best places in the world to study my specialty (metal corrosion),” she says, noting her supervisor, professor David Shoesmith, is a world expert in the field. “I never imagined I would work with someone like him.”

To top it off, Nafiseh was surprised by other news. She received the Christian Sivertz Scholarship in Physical Chemistry, a $3,500 award granted to a Canadian or international graduate student in physical chemistry.

“Receiving the scholarship gave my husband and I hope because it solved many concerns for us, as we adjusted to life in a new country. And it showed me that people appreciated my work and wanted to help,” says the 27-year-old.

The award also eased the burden of leaving Iran—and her family. Her parents, both of whom are teachers, enrolled Nafiseh and her four siblings in English classes at an early age and encouraged them to pursue their dreams, no matter where that would take them. One brother is a doctor in Australia, another is an engineer in Malaysia. Her two sisters are pursuing master’s degrees in Iran.  

Just 10 months into her studies at Western, Nafiseh is focused on her goal—completing her PhD, then pursuing research-based work and staying in Canada. “I want to support the people I love and do good things for others,” she says. “Then I will feel I’ve made a difference.”

Nafiseh plans to give back, returning the good she received through those who donated her scholarship. “They gave me help when I needed it. I want to do the same for someone in the future,” she says. “There will always be people who need help. If I help them, I can change a life. If I can help but don’t, that’s not right.”

For now, Nafiseh is grateful to study at Western and live in Canada. “I’m on the right path,” she says, “and I now have a bright future.”

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