In a world that is living proof if you work hard enough, dreams can and do come true, Stephanie Kurlow, a 14 year old Australian schoolgirl aims to become the world’s first hijabi ballerina – and was offered the scholarship to do so.
The performer, poet and community activist stopped dancing when she converted to Islam in 2010 with her brothers, mother and father in South-West Sydney. Dancing since she was two, she thought she would never be able to dance on a professional level as no dance troupe would be willing to provide services or facilitation to a ballerina who wore a hijab.
However, Stephanie did not give up.
Inspired by the stories of women who surpassed countless obstacles to achieve their goals, Stephanie Kurlow found her motivation and support. “One of the first female African-American ballerinas- Michaela De Prince and Misty Copeland, the first Hijabi Emirati lifter Amna Al Haddad and the first Hijabi news anchor on American television Noor Tagouri – that have motivated me to pursue my passion against the odds of the world“.
Striving to reach her goal, Stephanie started a srowd-sourced fund raising project on LaunchGood, so she could raise the tuition needed for her performance education. Her story was soon picked up by the news, and Swedish sports brand Björn Borg, started by the former tennis player, read her story and offered her the “Game Changer Scholarship”.
The scholarship supports athletes with “extraordinary visions and dreams, people who not only dream about a better future, but also a plan to get there. People who can change the game“.
Björn Borg managing director Jonas Lindberg Nyvang was genuinely inspired by her story. “The power and the courage that it takes for a 14-year-old to not give up in a situation like this, to see possibilities where others see problems, is exceptional“.
Stephanie eventually wishes to go on to open her own school, stating on her LaunchGood page, “Through your investment in me, I will be able to receive my qualifications and diplomas so that I may open a performing arts school that caters to children and teenagers of different religions, races or backgrounds. “
“This school will have special programs for specific religions,support groups for our youth and people who are from disconnected communities. I will provide for our future generations a chance to express and heal themselves and others through the magnificent art of performing and creativity.“
There have been negative comments on social media, but Stephanie Kurlow sees the benefits of performing not just for herself, but as a stand for others. “It’s not just about me doing ballet. It’s about Muslims becoming engineers or TV presenters or writers“.