WHAT does it take for a senior student to confidently announce that the final year of schooling was “the best period” of their life?
In Ahmad Hakimi’s case it took the welcoming and inclusive educational setting of St James’ College, Brisbane.
The admiration was reciprocated and college principal Gerry Crooks and college staff “were delighted” to learn that the 2016 senior was awarded a scholarship towards Civil and Structural Engineering qualifications from the University of Adelaide.
Of beginning his studies and moving states, Ahmad, an asylum-seeker from Afghanistan, said “it’s going well”.
“Engineering needs lots of effort and I have been studying so hard,” he said.
Ahmad and his family left Afghanistan to seek asylum in 2013.
“I wouldn’t have thought that I would ever leave Afghanistan and end up in a boat coming to Australia,” he said.
“My life was in danger so I had to leave. My family helped me to escape from my home in Kabul.”
After detention on Christmas Island, and in Darwin and Adelaide, Ahmad arrived in Brisbane to reconnect with family members.
The Queensland Multicultural Development Association (MDA) assisted in his enrolment at St James’ College in 2015.
Mr Crooks remembered “a quiet but conscientious young man” who was a popular student leader.
“Ahmad’s determination to master English and keep up with his assignments meant spending many hours with his teachers both during class and out of hours, improving his skills,” he said.
“His disarming humility endeared him to all at the school.”
An OP8 allowed Ahmad’s scholarship possibilities, Mr Crooks saying the college and its staff were “privileged to have been a part of the journey of this extraordinary young man’s life”.
Again offering reciprocal praise, Ahmad said he was “always proudly saying” he went to St James’.
“I learned a lot from school,” he said, “Not only academically but also (I learnt) compassion, kindness and understanding each other.”