“In a country where resources are scarce, education is your only weapon”
Sajeda is 28 years old and she is a master student in geology at Yarmouk university in Jordan, writing her final thesis. “I have a bachelor’s degree in geology [from the same university and] I graduated first of my class. [Two years after graduating,] I was awarded the EDU Syria scholarship which gave me the opportunity to do my master’s,” she says.
Sajeda has always dreamt of becoming a geologist and of working in nature. Since she was a child, she knew she was going to follow her passion and she is now convinced this is why she excels academically. Geology, however, is a niche sector, especially if you are a woman. “As women,” explains Sajeda, “[…] it is rare to have job opportunities in our field or major.” Many try to get jobs outside of the country because the demand of geologists is pretty low, at least in Jordan.
Sajeda had to wait for a long time before she could enrol in her master’s degree. “I live with my parents, we are a family of 8. […] All my father wanted was for us to study, so he always encouraged us: in a country where resources are rare, education is your only weapon.” Sajeda’s father helped her get through her bachelor’s, but after that he had to guarantee that his other 5 children would have access to the same opportunities.
Two years went by from her bachelor’s graduation. Sajeda was unable to find a job and so she decided to volunteer in the labs at her university. “I helped at the labs, with teaching, I did some administration work as a volunteer so I wouldn’t just stay home and feel like I had been separated from the things I love. I stayed there even though there was no financial compensation but psychologically I was happy,” she says.
After almost losing all her hope, Sajeda saw a Facebook ad for an EDU Syria scholarship and decided to apply. “They called me to inform me I got the scholarship and, honestly, it was the biggest joy in my life because I felt it was a dream that was never going to be fulfilled,” she recalls. “But it did come true and I feel like all the hard work that I put into my bachelor’s degree hadn’t been wasted… finally, even if it took a bit of time, I was reaping what I sowed.”
Sajeda also had the opportunity of spending one semester in Germany, which had an incredible impact on her: “it was a turning point in my life,” she remembers. “I learned how to rely on myself more… I felt that I was capable of doing something, regardless of the fact that someone was supporting me or not, whether it was my family or my friends. There, I experienced how to be alone and self-reliant for the first time in my life.”
Being awarded the EDU Syria scholarship, an initiative made possible thanks to the financial support of the EU via the Trust Fund to different Jordanian universities, gave Sajeda her motivation back: she hopes to finish her master’s successfully and get a scholarship for a PhD in Germany. “I was motivated to prove, not only to my family, but to the society I live in that I am capable of achieving something. Even if I can’t do it in practice for now, because there are no [job] opportunities […], at least academically I am able to excel and be successful,” she says with a smile.
Thanks to the financial support of the EU through the Trust Fund, EDU Syria, has provided thousands of higher education scholarships and training to Syrian and Jordanian students, for them to access the job market with the required skills.