Over the past year Iress has been working with the River Nile School, an independent school for refugees and asylum seeker women. From meeting the students at their careers day to work experience and the mentorship programs at Iress’ Melbourne office, we always knew that this would be a rewarding collaboration. We know there are significant challenges refugees and asylum seekers face when it comes to accessing education and employment opportunities. Part of the rewarding nature of these events is hearing the students’ stories of the trials and triumphs of integrating into a new country and finding their sense of belonging.

My first ideas of design was that it was about physical things, about something you can touch. But it wasn’t IT. Now I know designers can design anything and that can be me. We can design the future for people like me” - Maram Irdis

The Iress Design Scholarship

Hearing these stories inspired our team to act - we wanted to create a valuable experience in collaboration with the students. We started by creating a design mentorship program working with students to teach them design while also addressing their needs by incorporating digital literacy and professional skills along the way. We had to ask, how can we go even further and move to the next phase to help increase opportunities for the students?

The Iress Design Scholarship represents the next stage of this collaboration and is a reflection of all the hard work and effort the students have already demonstrated. In partnership with our friends at Academy Xi, Iress is providing an opportunity for women from the River Nile School to access a fully paid accredited design course.

Iress believes that this scholarship will provide an opportunity for these amazing students to gain new skills, increase employability, and contribute to their local communities. Our partner Academy Xi is a specialist education provider focusing on digital skills and their courses allow graduates to apply learnt skills with real world clients, giving graduates the best opportunity for landing their dream role upon graduation from their course. We think this is a fantastic next stage for the students.

“I want to try to explore and learn and this is something I missed out on back in Sudan. What I like about UX design is that every step is so different. I love that there are always different things to learn and do. Now I want to try everything! I’m a mix of scared and excited about the course.” - Marwa Irdis

Our scholarship winners:

Iress would like to congratulate the recipients of the Iress Design Scholarship: Marwa Irdis and Maram Irdis, who have excelled in their mentoring sessions run by the User Experience Design team. Marwa and Maram are sisters who migrated from Sudan three years ago, and have since made Melbourne their home.

After being introduced to the profession of UX design nine months ago, they have shown an amazing dedication to learning the craft of design. In their weekly mentoring sessions they tackled the challenges of balancing schoolwork, learning design concepts, as well as learning a new language. It’s these qualities of dedication, optimism and curiosity that makes both these amazing young women fitting recipients for this design scholarship.

When asked about what this opportunity means to her, Marwa replied, “It means everything, it’s a super good feeling. Before this I couldn’t imagine being a designer, but now it’s something I know I can be if I want it.

We at Iress and our friends at Academy Xi are thrilled to be a part of Maram & Marwa’s journey into design and look forward to seeing the great things that they create.