The inaugural Geoff Rasmussen Scholarship holder is Sara Shengeb. Sara and her family came to Australia from the East African nation of Eritrea as political refugees in 2011, when she was 17. Sara’s father had been forced into exile from the state for political reasons when she was just 10 and the family was experiencing increasing persecution. She faced mandatory conscription to the army at 17-years-of-age. Sara’s mother made the decision to smuggle her children out of Eritrea. The family managed to flee to Khartoum, Sudan, then Ethiopia and finally, to Australia.
Since she arrived in WA, Sara has worked to contribute to her local community. She excelled at school and achieved entry into Psychology and Chemistry at UWA, where she is in her final year.
While undertaking full-time study, Sara works part-time at the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia and volunteers her time to numerous government and non-government bodies to advocate for the voices and needs of young people.
She was recently awarded Young Citizen of the Year by her local council, the City of Kwinana, and last year was a finalist in the Young Human Rights Medal category of the National Human Rights Awards.
Sara was also recently chosen as one of seven young people to participate in the Hong Kong Exchange, a State Government initiative seeking to improve cultural understandings between Australia and Hong Kong. Sara is currently serving as an Advisor to Hon. Paul Papalia, Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests.