No one in her family had ever been to the university, but Rashka had known since she was a teenager that she wanted to become a doctor.
The question was, how? One day, while pondering this question, she learned about an NGO, the Student Society for Interethnic Dialogue (SSDID). For the past five years, TSA has enabled SSDID to help Roma high school students and young adults to prepare for and enter the university. Rashka applied to their program and was selected to receive support for additional afterschool tutorials in biology. Not only that, but SSDID also provides counseling on where and how to apply, as well as on how to identify and apply for external scholarship support. At twenty-one, she is now living her dream and is one of a handful of Roma studying medicine at Sofia University.
Having achieved this goal, Rashka now has another. “I want to go back to my hometown of Velingrad and to work in the Roma neighborhood". The challenge is that the community is poor and uninsured, and most have hardly ever, if ever, visited a doctor. So, my care is greatly needed in the community.” When she succeeds, she will become Velingrad’s first Doctor’s Assistant of Roma origin. This is a new degree in Bulgaria, designed to prepare health professionals in areas such as emergency care, GP assistance, and medical care in schools and social centers. Rashka is excited to be a part of something new. “By becoming a Doctor’s Assistant, I want to be a part of the change in the health-care system, a change that I think is well past due and necessary.” Her family is extremely proud of her success, and she has inspired her brother, who now wants to study dentistry. As she enters her last year of lectures, Rashka is getting ready to start a residency in emergency care. Along the way, she has also spent time in the department for premature babies.
She says she is hungry for knowledge and aims to learn as much as she can from each professor. “I see that a doctor needs to be responsible, and always ready to develop and grow. Many people think that medicine is a thankless and difficult profession, but for me it’s worth it, even if only to see the warm and grateful eyes and smiles of every single person I meet.”