Chisholm Higher Education College teacher Nida Iqbal arrived in Australia as a refugee aged 17. Her journey to success is truly inspiring.

At 17, Nida Iqbal arrived in Australia from Afghanistan as a refugee with her mother and two sisters.

She didn’t speak a word of English at the time.

With sheer determination, Nida completed her education and started working as an interpreter for an organisation that assisted women from different walks of life including victims of family violence and trauma.

It was through her work there that she met Fiona McCormack, Victoria’s Victims of Crime Commissioner, who encouraged her to become a community worker.

Nida enrolled in a Diploma of Community Development with Chisholm – an introduction that would prove to be lifechanging.

For nine years, she worked as a community development worker, then decided to join the Chisholm teaching team in 2015.

“Both my parents were lecturers in Afghanistan and my sister is also an educator with Chisholm, so it runs in my blood,” says Nida.

Nowadays, Nida teaches subjects for the Bachelor of Community Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs and the Graduate Certificate in Family Violence and in the VET department.

“When I wake up in the morning, I don’t think that I am going to work,” she says. “I absolutely love teaching. At Chisholm, the motto is ‘chase your calling’, and I think I have.”

Nida draws on her rich experience to create an engaging, interactive learning experience. For example, in her Policy, Politics and Law subject, she turns the class into a parliament, and makes students pass a bill and write policies.

“I’ve worked with alcohol and other drug clients, in the prison system, with victims of family violence, children and youth, so I have not just the qualification but also the expertise of knowing how the sector works and how to prepare my students for the sector,” she says.

“What I love about teaching is that we are all there for the same purpose – to empower someone, a community, a country or to change something.

“A lot of our students have their own personal experiences which has brought them to do our courses or like myself, have their own personal journeys. We all have the same level of compassion and empathy and that is the best part of my work”.

Nida is so highly regarded, she was nominated as Educator of the Year at the 2022 Chisholm Education Awards.

In addition to teaching, Nida has a Law degree and has previously worked as a volunteer solicitor with victims of crime cases, while also doing pro bono work as a migration agent.

She is also the co-founder of a not-for-profit organisation. In 2021, she assisted in the evacuation of orphans out of Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

Outside of work, Nida loves going to the beach with her two young children, playing badminton, walking the dog and reading.

She has no plans to slow down – in fact she is currently completing a Master of Public Health and has received academic excellence awards for her outstanding grades.

Nida’s dream is to do a PHD in honour killings of women and to advocate for stronger policies around women’s safety. When she eventually retires from teaching, she plans to practice as a Lawyer helping victims of crime.

“I’m a hard-working person and when I set my mind to achieving something, I go for it,” says Nida. “I want to be that positive role model for my children, where they learn from my work ethics, dedication, compassion and empathy and bring positive change to the world they live in.”