Sofia came to Israel from the Ukraine with her parents when she was just 3 months old. She was brought up by typical immigrant parents who were desperate for their son and daughter to succeed in their new homeland. “We were always under enormous pressure to get the best possible grades and expected to go to university – it wasn’t a question! However, it wasn’t as simple as in the Former Soviet Union. Good grades are not enough - in Israel you also have to pay for tuition. My parents are simple working people who earn minimal wages, so I grew up with a lot of pressure but not much support.”
After graduating high school, Sofia chose a managerial role for her obligatory two years of national service. After the army she was accepted by Ben Gurion University and during her first year she funded her tuition by working nights in a gas station. She endured long hours standing out in the cold, but her positive attitude got her through, and she was initially able to cover her costs.
However, Sofia realized that working her way through university was not going to work, so she sought guidance from the University. They saw her potential and recommended her to the Moshal Scholarship Program. “Moshal recognized that I was a hard worker and very determined to succeed, and that working nights was inhibiting my academic performance. They stepped in not only with valuable financial support, but also with amazing moral support. For the first time in my life I received encouragement rather than just pressure to succeed!”
Sofia credits her Moshal family with helping her in many ways. She attended a number of workshops which gave her the skills and confidence to prepare a good CV and present herself well at interviews. The other scholarship students became her support system. Unlike those other students with no financial problems, the Moshal group all understood each other’s desire to succeed and to ‘’pay forward’’ Moshal’s investment.
Sofia helped high school students in Beer Sheva to study for their exams, and she became an online advisor for students all over Israel, not only assisting them with academic subjects but also advising and encouraging them.
“Moshal became my family and taught me the value of a few words of encouragement and helped me to believe in myself. Not only did I benefit from that reinforcement, but I learned to pass it on to other young people, who sometimes doubt their ability to succeed and fulfil the overwhelming expectations of their parents. Moshal really changed my life and my attitude to becoming successful. Paying it forward for me means encouraging others so that they too can succeed at school and go on to build a great career and life for themselves!”