Meet Stephanie Kurlow, a 15-year-old Russian-Australian who lives in Sydney’s south west. She received an Aim for the Stars scholarship this year to help her achieve her dream of becoming the world’s first professional hijab ballerina.
Steph started dancing as a toddler but at the age of 10 hung up her pointe shoes when she and her family converted to Islam. She was unsure how to incorporate dance into her new life. It was a difficult time.
When Misty Copeland became the first black ballerina to earn a spot as principal dancer in the American Ballet, Stephanie’s passion was reignited. She instantly knew that wearing a hijab wasn’t going to hinder her dream – it was going to help make it happen!
"Through dance I want to empower young women from racially and culturally diverse backgrounds, and break down barriers. Girls who don’t ‘fit the mould’ need to know that there is a place for them. They need to keep dreaming.”
Thanks to your kind donations, this year Stephanie has been able to study dance full-time. It’s also meant that she can afford to buy shoes and all the other equipment she requires.
"Receiving the scholarship has allowed me to grow as a person and a dancer. I can’t thank Layne and the Aim for the Stars family enough. Just knowing that people believe in me is amazing."
So what’s next…? Through her exposure as an Aim for the Stars scholarship recipient, doors have opened for opportunities like becoming the Ambassador for Multicultural NSW - Remove Hate from the Debate Campaign.
She’s also currently training for one of the biggest ballet competitions in the world- Youth America Grand Prix. Semi Finals kick off in Sydney and the Final is in New York City in April next year. Winning this could mean entry into a pre-professional ballet school in 2018.
One day, Stephanie plans to give back by opening her own performing arts school. One that is inclusive and celebrates the wonderful diversity of our community.
To support more amazing women like Stephanie Kurlow make a donationonline. For more information about Steph or to apply for a scholarship, click here.You can also keep up to date with what’s happening at the Foundation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.