The UAE students opting for higher education and wishing to pursue their dreams must come out of their comfort zones to achieve their goals and grow in their careers.

This was stated by UAE students Sara Naeem Fikri and Gustė Gurčinaitė who have been awarded the Rhodes Scholarship to study higher education at the University of Oxford.

“There is no limit to your dreams. If you work hard towards something, then hard work and talent together will help you achieve things that you were never capable of. Students who want to go for higher education and pursue their dreams should come out of their comfort zone. That is where you would unleash your potential,” said Fikri, who is studying for a bachelor's degree in physics, astrophysics and cosmology.

The duo were selected after more than 60 students applied for Rhodes Scholarship in June 2022. The two will begin their academic year at the University of Oxford in October 2023.

“When I received the call yesterday about being accepted for a scholarship, I was speechless. I couldn’t believe it for a second,” Fikri said, adding that she plans to do PhD in one of the fields of physics. “I aspire to be an Emirati researcher in the field of physics and focus on advanced sciences and also enhancing the R&D sector in the UAE and contribute towards advanced sciences in the world.”

The UAE national said this fully-funded scholarship is very helpful. “Rhodes Scholar is not solely focused on academic excellence but it comes with a united purpose and encompasses the well-being of the community and the world,” she told Khaleej Times in an interview after winning the scholarship.

The Lithuanian national Gustė Gurčinaitė, who is a UAE resident for four years, said she feels very humbled and honoured to receive this scholarship.

“I feel very excited for what lies ahead because the University of Oxford is a wonderful institution,” she said.

Gurčinaitė, a student at New York University Abu Dhabi, is keen to study the environmental change and management programme at the university. She praised the Rhodes Scholarship because higher education degree was not affordable without the scholarship.

She added that the Rhodes Scholarship programme has some of the most distinguished leaders in a variety of fields – including in climate change. “It's a very diverse and intellectually rigorous community where there's a lot of learning that happens together. And scholars have built a lot of impressive projects, and just reading about them has made me feel very excited. Because I have an interest in climate change and this requires a collaborative and innovative approach. I felt that being a part of the Rhodes community is exactly where I can find this collaborative mindset and grow the most in my unique goals.”

After completing the higher post-grade degree, Gurčinaitė’s goal is to advance social justice and social well-being through climate policy.

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