With a clear goal in mind, Sandy Ohm added her Abitur to a vocational training and began studying medicine. The Deutschlandstipendium scholarship provides her with the freedom to concentrate fully on her degree.
"I was so happy to find out I was granted the scholarship," Sandy Ohm told us in a video interview. Meeting the student from Kiel in person is not possible because of the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. However, even via video chat we can clearly feel her joy about the scholarship, the admission to medical school and the achievement of a further milestone. "Studying medicine has been my ultimate goal these past few years. I want to do forensic medicine. Even without the scholarship, I would have started this course and completed it, for sure. But it would have been another hurdle to overcome. I’m so pleased that I don’t have to work in order to finance my degree."
When she finished school, it was by no means foreseeable that the now 22-year-old would one day go to university. "Many members of my family didn’t even get their secondary school qualification. Sandy comes from the Mettenhof district of Kiel; according to the 2018 Social Report, many people here live on welfare benefits. And her family also lives on a tight budget. She speaks of difficult circumstances, a problem with alcohol of a family member and personal bankruptcy. Her school achievement plummets. After year eight, she leaves grammar school for a regular secondary school. Here, her performance picks up again, and she achieves a good school leaving exam. This is followed by vocational training as a doctor’s assistant, which she completes after two and a half instead of three years due to her excellent achievement in vocational school. "I loved the medical subjects in school," said Sandy. But she cannot imagine working as a doctor’s assistant for the rest of her life. The salary is too low, you get little recognition and she would miss the challenge.
Her dream is to work in forensic medicine, and she thinks about completing another vocational training course as a forensic assistant. In the end, however, she decides to take the more difficult but more consistent route: to complete her Abitur and study medicine. She goes back to school for two more years. In the summer of 2019, she is awarded her Abitur certificate. With an average grade of 1.1. This opens the door to a medical degree.
She has the full support of her family. Even though or precisely because she is the first in the family to complete her Abitur and go to university. "My parents provided me with tremendous emotional support over the past few years. They always helped me wherever they could. When I got into medical school, they really jumped for joy. The whole family is very proud."
Sandy herself remains convinced that she has chosen the right path. "During my first semester, I spent one day in the forensic department of Kiel University. It was amazing. This is definitely my path." She is not frightened by the idea of conducting an autopsy on severely decomposed or mutilated bodies. "Obviously there are nicer things to do than having the dead body of a child in front of you. But the medical interest in it and the wish to find out why the person died is bigger. This is important work and extremely interesting. I personally cannot imagine a more interesting job."
However, she still has several semesters to study and many exams to pass before she will be all set. And she enjoys studying. "I was really excited when the second semester started with the online courses. I was so keen to continue. There is a lot to do, of course. And I’m not looking at it through rose-tinted glasses. But I’m so eager to learn and I look forward to every lecture and also to working together with the other students."
Author: Kerstin Nees
Sandy Ohm is one of 110 students at Kiel University to receive a Deutschlandstipendium in 2019. 480 students applied for it. She will receive €300 per month for one year, a total of €3,600. Sponsors grant €1,800 per scholarship. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) adds the same amount.
The scholarships are awarded based on ability and performance. In this regard, the Abitur grade (A-level equivalent) is particularly important. Additional bonus points are awarded for long-term social commitment, special family circumstances and outstanding extra-curricular achievements. And first-generation students, i.e. students whose parents do not hold an academic degree, also receive special consideration. (ne)
Scholarships are always for everyone else. – Is that really so? There is only one way to find out: apply for it, preferably by responding to several calls for application. We will present students who were granted a scholarship in the new unizeit series "Studying with a scholarship", which we will publish sporadically. In addition to the Deutschlandstipendium, there are many more scholarships you can apply for. Good grades and scientific achievement are important criteria for the selection, of course. But other aspects are also important, such as social, ecological or political commitment, special family circumstances or athletic achievements. (ne)