My name is Alexandra Nesrallah and I’m from Lebanon.
The Marion Dewar Scholarship has been awarded to numerous newcomer students and each of the winners has a unique story behind their success and mine is next.
Chapter One of my novel unravels a story of a family of eight living in a village. They worked excessively hard to maintain a moderate lifestyle. Step by step, they were discovering their potential and were strengthening their skills to build a “better” life.
As each of the brothers started building their own families, many of them chose to immigrate to Canada for better opportunities. Working in fast food restaurants, taking the night shifts and doing overtime was necessary to support families and save some money. Soon, the brothers decided to begin a fresh chapter in their lives in Canada by starting their own enterprise, “A Everest Locksmith”. While the brothers were struggling with the new chapter in their lives, their families and children also experienced immigration adversities. One of these children was me.
Chapter two describes my academic path. My parents had not acquired enough education to assist with my homework, and a tutor was deemed “unnecessary.” High standards were set, yet they seemed impossible to reach. A need of ESL classes made me believe that I was not the same as everyone and I was not good enough. It was hard to communicate, difficult to comprehend and challenging to make new friends.
But the example of my father and uncles’ families showed that no obstacle is too big. I strongly focused on academics. Steadily, I improved my English, gained more confidence and improved my organizational and communication skills. So hard work paid off. I received the Director of Education and Female Student of the Year awards for two consecutive years and I earned annual distinctions on the high school honour rolls.
Chapter three unravels my active involvement in school and community life. At high school, I have been involved in the Student Council, the Saint Patrick High School Leaders and the Teen Advisory Group at the Greenboro Ottawa Public Library. As Co-President of Student Council, I had the opportunity to organize numerous events, such as welcome tours for students in grades seven and eight, annual Fam Jam, Christmas show, school Oscars, the Coffee House for Cancer fundraiser and much more.
I expanded my interest in other volunteer opportunities. For two years, I volunteered for the Run for Women event by supervising various stations, setting up, cleaning and handing out the prizes. I contributed to women’s mental health awareness, an issue I battle in my life. I hosted a bingo night at the Billings Lodge retirement home and the most rewarding part was witnessing the smiles on the seniors’ faces. These experiences are very important in my life!
Now, setting goals and attaining them is part of my everyday life. My next chapter involves my future studies in Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Ottawa. In this regard, receiving the Marion Dewar scholarship is a great honour! The financial aspect remains minimal compared to the pride I feel in demonstrating the necessary qualities to earn this award.
Through the chapters of my story such as immigration, academic adversity, financial need, school and community involvement and my future goals, I am happy that I have demonstrated the sufficient criteria to earn this scholarship!
When one chapter ends, another one begins, and it will be remain just as unique as the previous ones.
Thank you OCISO, the Somerset West Community Health Centre and Marion Dewar Scholarship!