The year is 2013. The sun is high over the brightly-colored tents at the center of WISER’s campus and WISER’s very first graduating class is sitting up straight in their chairs, proud, confident, and ready to be among the first women in their community to pursue a university education.
In one of the back rows, still just a little too short to see over the heads of parents, grandparents, and community members, sat a girl at the top of her primary school class. Linah Samrah was one of three students from her local school chosen to attend WISER’s first graduation ceremony. Despite excelling at her schoolwork, she was uncertain about her chances for continuing on to high school.
But Linah was certain of one thing: she wanted to be in those chairs, to be like those WISER girls who were graduating and on their way to university.
The year is 2019. That same bright sun shines over those same bright tents. A crowd of WISER students, families, guests, and primary schoolers gather around another group of WISER graduates, and Linah is there again. Only, now, she sits in a different place.
“Now, I’m done with secondary school and yes, going to university.”
Linah is a member of the class of 2018, which recently celebrated their graduation from WISER. She and every other girl in her graduating class beat the odds for their community and qualified for admission to university. WISER’s class of 2018 is brilliant and powerful, and Linah is no exception.
Linah’s drive toward academic excellence comes from her willingness to do so much more than the bare minimum; to ask deep and thoughtful questions that go beyond the course material. Her advice for the young girls like her, watching from their own chairs at her graduation, is to use the abundance of resources they have been offered to pursue their studies as vigorously and inquisitively as she did.
“Just read and read and read. Work hard, work smart. If you have any question, don’t keep it for yourself, ask your teachers and they will always give you the correct answer.”
The determination and grit that Linah puts into her studies makes her not only want to pursue a degree in clinical medicine, but also to go above and beyond that medical knowledge and to use it to transform the face of medicine for future generations.
“I want to specialize mainly in surgery, because it’s not something a normal doctor does. It’s something you have to study. And only a few surgeons are women, so I want to be one of them.”
In the meantime, as one of WISER’s graduate interns, Linah is taking her own advice, going the extra mile to continue her studies even before she begins her university education.
“I think even as an intern, you still learn. I work in the library, and there are so many study books there. I read almost every day.”
When Linah attended WISER’s first graduation, going to university was just a dream. Now, she inspires the people who have watched her journey from a prospective WISER student to a WISER graduate.
“My mother was very happy, especially because I was one of the top performers in the class. She was so proud of me.”
Linah also sees her hard work inspiring her younger brother to follow in her thoughtful and curious footsteps.
“I think he’s proud of me. He saw me when I was studying, and how I had to work so hard and do my very best. Maybe now, if he has a question, he can ask me.”
And as for the girls like her, craning their necks to get a glimpse of WISER’s class of 2018, their ability to go to university is no longer a dream.
“It’s obvious now.”