Mehr Afzoon Sultani

“This award means a lot to me and my family, as it reflects my commitment and eagerness for learning and growing. I have always strived to do my best in my every course and assignment and to learn new and interesting things. This award encourages me to pursue my academic excellence and goals with confident and enthusiasm and alleviates my financial stress and enables me to focus on my studies and extracurricular activities.”

Born and raised in Afghanistan, Mehr Afzoon Sultani had the desire to serve her community through a career in nursing, however the fall of the Afghanistan government to the Taliban put those dreams on hold.

After graduating from high school, Mehr applied for a scholarship to study nursing, however her application was rejected due to systemic discrimination against the Hazara community, which she belonged to. Despite the discouragement, Mehr decided to focus on gaining experience and improving her family’s financial situation, and began working with the Aga Khan Foundation, a non-profit organization, where she developed computer, accounting and budgeting skills while building self-confidence and social skills.

Still longing to achieve her original goal, Mehr applied for and was granted an 80 per cent scholarship at American University, however in August 2016, the day before she was to begin classes, an attack on the university by suspected members of the Taliban killed 13 students and staff members.

“Despite the regular violence and bloodshed in the country, people had dreams to get education and thrive, but Taliban aimed at youth to destroy the future of our country and break us down,” says Mehr. “They wanted to ban women from secondary and higher education. All these polices have created huge barriers to women’s education.”

Family friends sponsored Mehr’s family to come to Canada where she was finally able to pursue the education she had been previously denied. She chose Bow Valley College’s Academic Upgrading program due to the high-quality education, as well as the resources offered that made studying more affordable and accessible. Mehr is hoping to pursue the College’s Practical Nurse diploma program next and eventually work in the emergency department of a hospital.

“Studying at BVC has enhanced my academic knowledge and prepared me for further education and career path,” she shares. “It has also helped me to build and develop social skills, such as communication, teamwork, leadership and conflict resolution, through the various class activities, presentations, projects, and events. These experiences have increased my confidence and self-esteem.”