‘There were days I did want to give up’

‘There were days I did want to give up’

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Physiotherapy student Rita Anjerkoushian was named Oustanding New PASS Leader at the 2019 Australasian Peer Leader Awards.

She fled her war-torn homeland and she is now helping other students navigate their university studies and now Rita Anjerkoushian has been recognised among Australasia’s brightest student leaders.

The Canning Vale resident is a 23-year-old physiotherapy student at Curtin University who took on the role as a peer learning facilitator as part of the Curtin’s UniPASS program.

UniPASS is a free program of study sessions led by a senior student who has been successful in the unit and is designed to help students maximise their grades for demanding units.

Rita said she started her role as a peer learning facilitator because she always wanted to use different strategies and techniques to help students improve their understanding of difficult topics.

“It meant the world to me to be recognised for my work as a peer learning facilitator,” she said.

“This was not only a big achievement but it also proved to me that the strategies I have been using have been effective in helping students.”

Rita, who has an Armenian background and grew up in Syria, escaped the war by moving to Lebanon with her family and then applying for a humanitarian visa to Australia.

The moment she landed in Perth she knew she wanted to study physiotherapy.

“I have seen first-hand the health and injury issues caused by war and realised I wanted to study something that would give me the opportunity to help people and make the changes I want to see in the world,” she said.

“In the future I hope to work in a Perth hospital helping and treating injured patients, as well as volunteering to do the same in hospitals around the world.”

Rita’s biggest challenge was completing the English bridging course and going through a cultural shock.

“English is my third language and my dream was to do a physiotherapy degree, and when I realised I had to relearn everything in English, that was a big shock for me,” she said.

“There were days that I did want to give up and choose the easy path but I remembered my mother used to say “you cannot have rainbows without the rain”.

“At the same time, my inner voice motivated me every day reminding me of the changes I want to see happening in our world.”