A Syrian refugee who fled his war-torn country has today received a 96.65 Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) just two years after learning English.
Saad Al-Kassab and his family fled Syria to Egypt via Lebanon before eventually seeking refuge in Australia in 2013.
Three years later he graduated as dux of Catholic Regional College Sydenham in Melbourne’s north-west.
“I felt really happy. I was just overwhelmed," Saad told ABC.
"I'm really grateful for being given the opportunity to be able to come to Australia and study here. Despite all the difficulties, I was given a new life."
In 2014 his lack of English-speaking skills made it difficult to get into a school in Australia and he took a job as a gardener at a school.
Saad taught himself English using his father’s dictionary and watching Question Time in Federal Parliament. "The way they speak, they speak proper English. They speak slowly, so you can catch words," he said.
Saad has now been offered a scholarship at Monash Universty and hopes to study biomedicine or medicine.
Before fleeing Syria, Saad’s school had been turned into a refugee camp, and to continue his education, he and his brother Omar would have to travel through checkpoints to makeshift exam centres, reports Seven News.
The brothers are now a part of Scouts Victoria, and recently appeared in a video outlining the work they did as part of the Syrian Scouts which helped provide food and aide to those affected by the war.
"We acted as distributors of the international aide and collected food for the displaced people in Syria," Omar said in a Scouts Victoria video.