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Why Give | Impact stories

How one phone call made a student’s dream a reality

Donor funding has transformed Yasmeen Haji's life, igniting her passion for personal and societal change in UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

Yasmeen Haji woke up to a phone call, which changed her life.

“I was taking a nap. I think I was so tired from classes and the stress of applying to universities,” said Yasmeen. “My mom got the phone call, and I wondered, ‘Did I do something wrong?'”

Instead, it was good news. She had received the Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Award, which supports Black Canadian students coming to UBC.

“When I received the scholarship phone call, it felt like all my hard work had truly paid off,” said Yasmeen. “I was able to see my entire future actually happening!”

Born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Jordan until age eight, Yasmeen Haji’s journey to UBC came via Ontario, and was fueled by a desire for positive change. Receiving the Beyond Tomorrow Scholarship eased her worries and ignited her passion for learning and impacting society.

“I would not have been able to envision myself being able to attend university,” said Yasmeen Haji. “It was my family’s dream for me to be able to go to university—and that scholarship allowed me to fulfill that dream.”

Yasmeen joined UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems, specializing in global health within the Global Resource Systems program. Being a first-generation university student, Yasmeen is excited to focus on the barriers to medical care.

“I tend to study why some people can’t access health care—or why some people just don’t trust the health care system,” said Yasmeen. “My studies are a way to bridge the gap between medicine and people who want medical care.”

Engaging with her community, Yasmeen co-founded Islamic Relief at UBC—a chapter of the international organization providing humanitarian aid, which recruited over 115 members on campus, sponsoring 35 orphans and raising over $10K in funds for countries like Palestine, Nigeria, Turkey and Syria.

Yasmeen also volunteers at the BC Children’s Hospital, helping ease the stress of hospital visits for young patients.

“Medical spaces often have a lot of anxiety,” said Yasmeen. “Being able to surprise them if they’re hurt with a little sticker or a game—I love being able to see that smile on their face.”

Donors to the Beyond Tomorrow Scholars Award made Yasmeen’s UBC education possible. She has these words for everyone who supported the program.

“First and foremost, thank you so much! If it weren’t for all your support and generosity—students like me would not be able to attend university. Your donations will never, ever be in vain—thank you so much for investing in us.”

Recalling the momentous phone call that woke her up to life’s possibilities, Yasmeen looks ahead to personal and societal growth.

“I hope the career I choose to go into not just interests me—but has a benefit to society,” said Yasmeen. “I want to be respectful of my privilege and do something meaningful in society.”

If you would like to support outstanding students like Yasmeen, please give to the FORWARD for Students Fund.

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