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Family affair at AMC

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AMC student Hadiqa Khan and her father Sammar Abbas who recently graduated with a Master of Maritime Engineering

Lifelong ambition realised as Sammar graduates

It was as a 22-year-old that Sammar Abbas’s imagination was first captivated by the Australian Maritime College and its potential to enhance his future career.

He was attending a student exhibition in Karachi, Pakistan.

“My passion with AMC starts in 1997. I still remember the day there was a student exhibition going on in one of the local hotels in Karachi. So I went there and I did a stroll and the guys from the AMC were there,” he said.

“I spoke to the AMC guys and I just came to know that there is some really fascinating education going on over there in marine and offshore engineering degrees and naval architecture.

“Right from that day I built a dream that one way or another I would go there and study.”

The youthful inspiration led Sammar and his family to emigrate to live in Australia in 2012 and he enrolled at AMC in 2013.

He raised three children in Perth, Western Australia.

Sammar graduated from AMC with a Masters in Maritime Engineering in Launceston on August 24.

He has had a 23-year career predominantly in the maritime industries in both Pakistan and Australia.

His current job is with the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC Pty Ltd) as a Life Cycle Engineer-essentially helping to keep the Royal Australian Navy's Collins Class submarines in operation into the 2030's.  

At the end of next year his daughter Hadiqa Khan is set to graduate from AMC with a Bachelor of Engineering (Naval Architecture).

She believes she will be the first civilian woman of Pakistani birth to graduate with that degree.

And that is not the end of the family's collaboration with AMC with Sammar's eldest son Waris expected to enrol in a naval architecture degree in 2020 and younger son Wajid also considering coming to the College.

Hadiqa, 21, is not only eyeing a career in the defence arena but also wants to have a leadership role in advocating for women to take up positions in defence and maritime industries.

She recalls the moment she became determined to advocate for women.

“I was being an AMC student ambassador at a workshop and a bunch of girls came up to the stall and said, 'isn’t that a guy’s job though',” she said.

“That was when I realised why I was doing it and I explained to them ‘no it is not a guy’s job’.”

She said she wanted to be part of an industry where gender was irrelevant and tokenism was absent.

"I would much rather be selected on merit on my experience rather than being judged “we've got to pick her- she’s a girl’," she said.

Hadiqa has an ambition to work with the Australian defence industries  

"It is one of the growing industries at the moment, every single maritime company in Australia is involved in defence," she said.  

"I am really patriotic and have a vision of joining the navy. 

"I will not only be doing my job but also serving Australia and thanking it for all the opportunities I got to have in coming to this country.  

Hadiqa said her father had given her the freedom of choice to do what she wanted.

"I said to him I want to have the career you had, I want to experience the friendships you've made," she said.  

"But when it came time to leave home he said "did I really want to go away'." 

I said: 'it's your fault you started this passion in me, I am ready to sail the seven seas, I'm going, and you're not stopping me'.  

Sammar says that Hadiqa’s approach is consistent with the values of his Pathan family which is contrary to the conservatism in some parts of Pakistan in relation to female education and the pursuit of a career.

“I come from a family with a tradition in education,” he said.

“My grandfather Ahmed Yaar Khan sent his daughters, my aunts, to University and away from the home at a time when it was considered totally against the tribal customs and traditions to send the daughters out of the home particularly for education,” he said.

“One of our family traditions is in order to get a good education you should get out your comfort zone.”

Sammar said the biggest achievement of his career was that his children carried on the family's tradition of pursuing education and followed in his footsteps.

Published on: 30 Aug 2019