From Pakistan to Western Sydney as graduate sets new path in Australia

It's been a long journey to graduation for Ibrar Hassani, from the remote mountainous peaks of Pakistan to Western Sydney University. As a member of the oppressed Hazara ethnic minority, Ibrar and his family arrived in Australia on humanitarian visas in 2010, and, like many new arrivals, adapting to the new language and lifestyle of Australia was a challenge. Yet, in less than a decade Ibrar has established himself as a key member of the Auburn community, and has now not only graduated with a Bachelor of Criminal and Community Justice, but also secured a place on the Dean's Merit List for his outstanding academic record.

"When I arrived in Australia as a young teenager, I quickly discovered that being part of the community was very important, and I always had this in mind when thinking possible careers. When I spoke with my school councilor he suggested thinking about joining the police force because one of the best things about Australia is its commitment to law and order. This led me to studying criminology at Western Sydney University."

Ibrar and his family 

Although initially overwhelmed, Ibrar quickly grew into university life, making friends and building relationships with tutors. He threw himself into his work at The Academy, Western Sydney University's specialized learning experience focused on developing tomorrow's leaders with tailored academic units, projects and events. Ibrar was accepted into the invitation only Golden Key International Honour Society, and later became the Community Enagagement Officer for the Western Sydney chapter. In 2016, he received an International Travel Scholarship to attend the Golden Key International Summit in Tucson Arizona and, later that year, received a New Colombo Plan Grant to participate in a Study Tour to India. He was a peer mentor in the Mates@UWS and also began reaching out to other members of the Afghan community to try and help others where he could.

"I always wanted to start a youth program for children from Afghani families, to help them pursue educational opportunities and integrate into the wider society. So we started a community based youth organization called Hazara Youth Perspectives to help local youths realize their potential and chase their dreams. For many young Afghans, they are the first people in their families to attend school, let alone higher education, so they need to look outside of the home to find the support they need in pursuing education."

It was Ibrar's connections with youth in the Auburn area that led him to become a community organizer in the 2016 Census, helping the government reach out to local residents, many of whom are new arrivals, in the local community.

"As an area supervisor, I had to train a team of colleagues to help engage with the local community and take part in the Census. The census is a really new concept for many people new to Australia, and many community members had doubts about it, and we had to persuade and convince people about its importance. It was an exciting period, and we really helped make a difference. It was discovered that there are as many as 50 thousand people from Afghanistan living in the local area, adding to the rich multicultural tapestry that is Western Sydney."

Now that he's graduated, Ibrar is applying for graduate positions with the Australian government to help give back to the Australian community. He says he's grown so much since he started his journey from Pakistan, and suggests other students make the most of their time studying at Western Sydney University because education is the key to a brighter future.

"I still remember how challenging it was on my first day, when I accidentally missed a quiz for a unit because I couldn't find my building in time. But I persevered, and made some really good friends and learned a lot both in terms of content and also about myself.  Like most things in life, you get out what you put in, and I feel that Western Sydney University has truly helped me become the best version of myself."

Ends

21 April 2017

Mark Smith, Senior Media Officer