My name is Mouhamad Al Aarab, and I am originally from Syria.
Due to the war, my family had to leave Syria in 2012. We moved to Lebanon where we lived in a refugee camp. In the camp, we had food and water, but we were unable to go to school.
In 2016, we came to Canada through the support of UNICEF. I was full of hope, but I was also scared. I felt that I would not be able to study, learn and succeed. I was very anxious and stressed because after four years without proper access to education, I did not believe in myself anymore. I only knew a few words in English and some short sentences. As for mathematics, I knew the multiplication table up to 10 and I remembered some formulas, but I did not know how to use them. I attended school in Syria, but I did not remember many specifics about the subjects I had studied.
I started school in Canada in September 2016. Within my first academic year, I completed grade 9, 10, and 11 math. I learned many things and my mind became refreshed. Every moment that I was at the school, the knowledge that I lost started to come back.
My educational journey was not smooth or easy. My first mark in math was 27%. However, I did not give up. I started attending a homework club every day. I went to school in the morning and I would stay there until 9 pm many evenings. I spent all my time in school. Even on Saturdays, I went to the school. As a result of my persistence over the years, I have achieved an average of over 87% in my Grade 12 courses. I have also received many awards: RBC Spirit of the Capital Award for Academic Perseverance presented by Youth Ottawa, Principal’s Award for providing outstanding service to the school while maintaining high academic standing, OCDSB Award in recognition of Outstanding Student Leadership, Gloucester High School Staff Bursary for making Gloucester a more safe and caring community, Gloucester High School Subject Award for achieving the highest mark in an Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course, Ontario Scholar Award for obtaining an average of at least 80% in any six Grade 12 courses, and finally Honour Roll for 2017-2018.
I am also devoted to my community. Throughout high school, I was always helping new students integrate into the school by familiarizing them with the school rules. I also helped them apply their strengths towards personal and academic goals. Additionally, I used to volunteer with the Food Bank as an Arabic interpreter. As well, on Sundays I taught basic Arabic language at the Islamic Society of Cumberland.
In high school, my goal was to attend university, and my next goal is to become an Aerospace engineer. My guidance counsellor helped me submit my application to Aerospace and Mechanic Engineering university programs, and I am happy that I will study it at Carleton University. I hope to learn new engineering theories and practices to develop innovative aerospace technologies.
This is a big honour for me to receive a scholarship award from OCISO and the Marion Dewar Scholarship Fund! I know that this scholarship will be a big support to my educational journey.
I would also like to thank my guidance counsellor, all my teachers, and my Homework Club Team at the Gloucester High School for their tremendous help! I am thanking my parents for their great help and support. Without their support, I will not be able to achieve my goals.
Thank you all!