People - 14.05.2024 - 14:00 

From child refugee to HSG student

At the age of five, Hagr Arobei fled Iraq together with her mother and sister. Today, she is in her assessment year at the University of St.Gallen and is involved in the HSG's Healthcare Club.

When Hagr Arobei came to Switzerland as a 5-year-old, she thought it was paradise. "People here don't understand how much you can appreciate a toilet," she says. After all, Arobei and her family repeatedly lived in inhumane conditions when they fled across the Mediterranean. However, she can also remember her home before she fled. Back then, they lacked nothing, she says.
With the outbreak of war, however, the situation became too dangerous and so Hagr Arobei fled to Switzerland with her mother and sister. Her father stayed behind. He still works as a doctor in Iraq today, something she is proud of. "My father is one of the few doctors who stayed," she says. Her father visits the family twice a year. Arobei herself returned to Iraq for the first time in 2022. 

Even though she had to leave her home country and rarely sees her father, she is still grateful. She knows only too well that many others in her home country did not have the same chances as she did. She has decided to capitalise on this and give something back to Switzerland at the same time. To do this, however, she first had to learn the language. "I read my first novel when I was nine," says Arobei. "I wasn't good at German yet, but I was motivated, I really wanted to read books and master the language." 

Panel discussion with renowned guests

Today, she is studying in her assessment year, has a job as a financial analyst and is also involved as Head of Events for the HSG's Healthcare Club. For this club, she is organising a public panel discussion on the topic of "Cost explosion in the healthcare system". She has been able to attract some prominent guests for this event. The speakers include Sabine Bruckner, managing director of Pfizer Switzerland, Fridolin Marty, head of Health Policy at economiesuisse, and Regine Sauter, national councillor and president of "H+", the national umbrella organisation of public and private Swiss hospitals. 

For the student, the most important thing is that the panel discussion is accessible to everyone. "I want people to be able to come and ask questions," she says, "after all, it's the people who will be voting on three healthcare proposals on 9 June."

You can tell that the topic is close to her heart. There are many reasons for Arobei's interest in the healthcare system. Firstly, she comes from a country where medical care is poor and there are too few doctors, and secondly, she had to overcome a serious illness herself. 

In 2021, the Iraqi-born student was already in her assessment year at HSG. At that time, however, she contracted Pfeiffer's glandular fever and had inflammation of the spleen and liver. "It hit me pretty hard," says Arobei. "I felt really bad for about half a year." Although she had almost no time to study, she wrote the exams. Looking back, she is glad that she gave it a go and was able to gain experience.

"The trick is good time management"

She is now studying at HSG for the second time, working part-time and doing voluntary work for the Healthcare Club. The assessment year is a tough job even without a job. How does Hagr Arobei manage to juggle everything? "The trick is good time management. I always try to be as efficient as possible because I can't afford to go round in circles. That's why I draw up a work schedule before I start studying," she says. 

This is how she manages to be productive every day and see her friends at the weekend. This is important to create a balance between work and leisure time. However, she also emphasises: "I really enjoy my work and it shows me that I'm in the right place." And where will this place be in the future? "In addition to healthcare, I'm also interested in human rights, for example. I read a lot of articles about it." This could also be combined well, as human rights includes many aspects of health. Hagr Arobei knows one thing for sure: "I definitely want to do something where I can help other people." 

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