Amit is reluctant to talk about her very difficult childhood. Her parents separated when she was young, leaving her disabled mother to care for her and her older brother. From the age of 13 she felt the pressure to earn money to put food on the table, working for as many hours as possible every night after school.
School was not particularly challenging for Amit – she graduated top of her class – but it was not particularly helpful either. She realizes now that there were opportunities that she missed out on and academic programs that might have helped her, but her teachers did not tell her about them.
After two years of compulsory army service as a computer programmer, Amit decided that she wanted to go to university. She was working as a waitress and trying to save money while also studying for her university qualification examinations, and she did not get a good enough score to qualify for medicine or veterinary science. Instead she decided that Chemistry and Materials Science would equip her to get involved with medical research from a different perspective.
“The research projects that we get involved with at the university are fascinating, such as exploring whether carbon nanotubes can be used to improve cancer treatments. It’s exciting to be involved at the cutting edge of science and to explore the potential for using these new super-strong materials in medical treatments.”
When Amit was accepted for this prestigious double-degree programme at the Haifa Technion, she had to move from her village in the south of Israel to the far north of the country. She realized that it would be too expensive for her to make frequent trips home, and that visiting her family for weekends put too much financial pressure on her mother. Instead she has struck out on her own and created a new life for herself in Haifa. In order to support herself, despite carrying a heavy load of course work from two faculties, Amit also works in the university chemistry laboratory.
Amit’s life has not been easy, and she has had to rely on her inner strength to overcome every challenge along the way, until she was accepted onto Moshal Scholarship Program. “At the beginning of my degree course, when I received my precious scholarship, I needed a great deal of assistance. I frequently called on members of the Moshal team for advice and support, particularly in my first year. Their advice and encouragement helped me to make good choices and set goals for the future.”
Looking beyond her own challenges, and demonstrating exceptional altruism, Amit has added to her already busy schedule by taking on several volunteering projects. “Someone who does not have money to contribute can donate their time by volunteering to help others – volunteering is good for your soul – it makes you feel strong!
“I try to find time to help a number of good causes, including an organization that assists women who have broken out of prostitution. I recently organized a volunteer day for students at the local hospital, and we went in to entertain the children and give out gift that we solicited from Israeli companies. It was a heart-warming experience, to see what a difference we could make in just a few hours, just by throwing our energies into cheering up children who were suffering.”
Amit would love to go to South Africa as an ambassador of Moshal’s Israel programme. “I would love to meet other Moshal scholars and talk to them about the amazing opportunities that we have all been given. It would be amazing to meet other young people who come from difficult backgrounds and who have succeeded in overcoming similar challenges.”
Now in her fourth year of a five-year joint degree programme, Amit has been learning how to prepare her CV and apply for jobs. Moshal’s employment advisory team has helped her to get one interview at a major Israeli company, and she hopes to be invited for more.
“Now, as I approach the final year of my degree, with so many opportunities opening up for me, I really appreciate what I have been given. I could never have done any of this without the Moshal team. When I was growing up I was left to work it out for myself, and I missed many opportunities. No matter how strong you are, you always need help from people who have more life experience and who can advise you with your best interests at heart. Moshal has helped me to channel my intelligence and my dedication to hard work so that it will actually take me to a better place.”