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"I’ve always been a dreamer": 19-year-old Syrian student goes from pipe dream to studying at the University of Cambridge
Whether parent or learner, exam time is stressful. One Syrian student is proving that no matter what your circumstances are, hard work and determination really does pay off.
"The most inspiring stories of all, are the ones whose protagonist starts from the bottom in the least favorable of all circumstances and manages to thrive despite all the suffering he has endured." (iStock)
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Given our unique social-economic structure, not all South African learners are met with the same challenges while studying for the exams. 

While some are able to solely focused on acing past papers and loading up on the right snacks, others face severely challenging circumstances, such as a shortage of food, and troubling home circumstances which make studying that much harder. 

Yet, no matter where your child falls on the spectrum, the story of how one Syrian student made his way from studying chemistry in his bedroom to being accepted at one the top universities in the world is sure to motivate.


Does your child have an inspiring story of achievement despite immense challenge? Tell us by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish your letter.


Now an undergrad at the University of Cambridge studying a BA degree in Natural Sciences, Abdullah Kattineh spent fours years devoting himself to studying chemistry, despite the threatening circumstances of living in a country in the midst of civil war. 

"Most of us – the Syrian people – were paralysed by the outcomes of the Syrian crisis: from an extreme devaluation of the Syrian currency accompanied by the difficulty to afford the costs of living to the possibility of losing your best friend or family member at any moment," he shared. 

Yet despite the upheaval he faced, Abdullah found a passion that inspired him to reach for more. 

After winning bronze at the International Chemistry Olympiad in 2016, and graduating high school with top marks, Abdullah set himself a seemingly impossible goal: studying chemistry at the University of Cambridge. 

Describing the moment he received his acceptance letter, Abdullah says, "[I] just jumped [all] over the place... running like crazy, saying: 'Oh my God! I was admitted to Cambridge!'" 

But his dream was not yet secure, given that he still needed to raise more than £20 000 to fund his studies, and the determined young man took to Gofundme.com to make his dream happen. 

"The most inspiring stories of all are the ones whose protagonist starts from the bottom in the least favourable of all circumstances and manages to thrive despite all the suffering he has endured," read the first few lines of his appeal. 

After learning of his campaign, the University pitched in, and funds from the College and the Cambridge Trust were allocated to Abdullah's studies. 

The remarkable student is now in his second month of study and has his sights set on yet another exceptional achievement. 

Inspired by his grandmother, who lives with Alzheimer's disease, Abdullah is aiming to find a cure for the devastating disease. 

"My grandmother was a role model. She was one of the first women in Syria to pursue a PhD degree. But after the disease, everything has gone."

Abdullah's story speaks volumes to just how much can be achieved through passion, hard work and persistence, and believing in a dream. 

"To me, I’ve always been a dreamer, and those circumstances made me even more determined to achieve my dreams."

Does your child have an inspiring story of achievement despite immense challenge? Tell us by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish your letter.

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