A practical architecture student at Tel Hai Technological College in the north of Israel is approaching graduation thanks to a World ORT Kadima Mada (WOKM) scholarship. Shiraz Kakun, 24, is completing her last term of studies and her final project, the design of a winery – but she wasn’t sure she would be able to get to this point. “The scholarship helped me complete my studies. I managed to pay this last year with the scholarship,” Shiraz said.
Tel Hai College is part of the WOKM technical colleges network, which provides educational opportunities in Israel’s under-resourced peripheral areas. The college offers a variety of practical engineering, architecture and information technology study tracks that combine theoretical instruction with hands-on training. The campus is set in a picturesque, leafy area just a few kilometers from the border with Lebanon near Kiryat Shmona, where Shiraz attended high school. After graduation she served in the Israel Defense Forces as a laboratory technician in the air force, then as head of an operations room. Keen on exploring design-related fields, after her military service Shiraz attended a recruitment event at the college to learn about its architecture and interior design study track. “I met with students and spoke to some of the instructors, and it seemed right for me,” Shiraz recounts. She immediately registered for the program.
Shiraz has four siblings. Her father is a concrete truck driver, and her mother lost her job because of cutbacks. Shiraz works for a telephone company, where she used to have four shifts a week to pay her college tuition, making it challenging to dedicate herself to her studies. As a result of the scholarship, this year she was able to decrease to one shift per week and devote more time to her college work. “The studies are very intensive. You produce a lot of projects and you design models. It requires a lot of working hours. The scholarship gave me the option to concentrate on my studies,” she said, adding she also volunteers in the college office as part of her scholarship requirement.
After Shiraz graduates she plans to seek employment in her field. Because there is not a lot of commercial development in Kiryat Shmona, she will likely relocate to another area of Israel. Shiraz touches on the reality of this region, which underscores the significance of WOKM educational opportunities for residents in Israel’s periphery. “In general it’s hard to find a job in our area – not only in architecture. It doesn’t really matter where I live, providing I find a job that can give me some initial experience, since most of the places require work experience.” Very motivated, she intends to progress in her career and continue her education.