Asma Abu Nimir was one of three girls to tie for the top score in this year’s Palestinian university entrance exam, called the Tawjihi. The score of 99.3% was achieved by four students across the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Out of Khalid Shinar from Nablus, Hanan Rajib from west Gaza and Aiyh Qlaluwah the other top scorers in this years’ exams, Asma was the only girl whose home had been destroyed three years before by Israeli forces.
Her family was devastated and had to move to an apartment in the city, where, says Asma, "thank god, we were able to live relatively comfortably."
When asked about the hardships of Gaza; studying with no electricity, the transportation crisis the lack of food and fuel, Asma only said that she made herself "feel brave," would walk to school and was able to succeed with the help of her wonderful educators.
Asma attributes her success to the help of her teachers, her study group and her brothers, who studied with her. "I did not expect to get 99.3% and to be on the top the students of Palestine," she said.
Being brave, it seems, was what Asma was best at. In an interview with Ma’an, Asma’ said "Thank God I surpassed despite of the demolition of our home which did not affect my studying." She would not complain about her situation, but rather only thank those people who helped her succeed.
Asma presented her success in the exams is dedicated to the prisoners; those killed and injured by the Israeli army, her teachers, and to all of the Palestinian leaderships. She was happy that people from Rafah to Gaza city to Jerusalem to Nablus were able to celebrate their successes along with her, and said that she hoped that there could be political unity soon, not just unity in education.
The young woman is a remarkable success, and perhaps does not realize the extent of her braveness. While she is an exceptional case, she is one of a growing number of Palestinian girls and women who are achieving through the education system and beyond. Of the top 13 spots in the science-track Tawjihi, 9 were taken by Palestinians. Three of the top 13 were young women from Gaza. In the Human Sciences track, all twelve of the top spots were achieved by young women, two from Gaza.
The success of these daughters and sisters of Palestine, if Asma is any indication, bodes well for the future of the people.
Not only do the successes like Asma’s, as her father Naser Abu Nimir put it, "ease the pain of the loss of our home and overwhelm us with joy after years of torture and displacement," but her continued success will bring change within the country.
Armed with her two favorite subjects of Math and Physics, Asma will go to medical School at Gaza’s Islamic University. Once she is finished Asma hopes to be "a good doctor in one of our Hospitals, to continue being brave and to be a good person for my country."
For her efforts and hardhips the prime mininister of the de facto Hamas government in the Gaza Strip has awarded 10,000 USD to Asma’s family to help pay for the costs of housing. She will also, along with the top 34 students in Gaza, receive a scholarship to study at the university.
Asked what she would like to tell others who read her story, she said that she first wanted to thank them for all their help and support, and that she hoped her bothers and sisters overseas would also have good luck in their studies.