13 DEC 2016
Saad Al-Kassab topped the table at Catholic Regional College, Sydenham, with an ATAR of 96.65 despite only starting to learn English after arriving in Australia as a refugee from Syria in June 2014 and missing two years of school due to the conflict in his homeland, instead studying at home with his mother.
Saad describes his experience at Catholic Regional College, ‘I was actually offered a job at the start of this year as a gardener and maintenance member. And then the principal of the school, Brendan Watson, had offered me a scholarship to study there.
'I was overwhelmed and so pleased to accept the scholarship to study there. It was actually a really amazing experience. You see other perspectives and learn so much from the Catholic faith.
‘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. I really wish I can pay it back one day.’
Saad now has a scholarship to attend Monash University and hopes to study medicine. His choice is inspired by what he witnessed in Syria when there was a lack of medical aid.
Catholic Education Melbourne Executive Director Stephen Elder said ‘Catholic schools work hard to discover what matters to each student and identify what they want from life and what will give them joy’.
‘Without a strong sense of self, successful learning and achievement is difficult to attain. We’ve seen today what that approach can deliver,’ said Mr Elder.
Saad's achievements have received a lot of media attention, see more about his story in The Age, ABC News and SBS news.