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Kingston high school student, former refugee receives national scholarship: ‘We do have potential’

Click to play video: '‘I proved the potential of us immigrants and refugees’: Kingston, Ont. student receives national scholarship'
‘I proved the potential of us immigrants and refugees’: Kingston, Ont. student receives national scholarship
WATCH: Taim Saeed, 16, was one of 36 Canadian students selected from a pool of 5,194 applicants, based on academic success, commitment to community service, and leadership – Feb 21, 2020

A Kingston, Ont., high school student has been named to the 2020 class of Loran Scholars.

Taim Saeed, 16, was one of 36 Canadian students from a pool of 5,194 applicants, a selection process based on academic success, commitment to community service and leadership.

“I received a phone call saying that I got the award and I couldn’t believe it at first,” said Saeed.

Saeed will receive an annual stipend of $10,000 and matching tuition waiver, access to $10,000 in funding for summer internships, one-on-one mentorship, and annual retreats and scholar gatherings — in total, $100,000 over a four-year undergrad degree.

It’s an opportunity that Saeed and his family could only dream about when they fled war-torn Syria in pursuit of a better life.

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“It reached a point where our life was on the line,” said Saeed. “We were like it was just like a jungle there. You either have to hurt someone or get hurt,” said Saeed.

At 12 years old, Saeed and his family took refuge in Dubai, where he began studying English. During that time, the Kingston Writers Committee sponsored the family, bringing them to the Limestone City.

“I didn’t want my children living there [Syria] it is dangerous. I wanted a better life for my children,”  said Saeed’s mother, Rufaida Alkhabbaz.

Since arriving in Kingston, Saeed has worked with refugee resettlement services- starting a translating committee to help with teacher-parent communication for non-English speakers at Loyalist Collegiate & Vocational Institute. Along with that,  he’s also the captain of the football and rugby teams.

“I received a lot of help, and just giving back to the community just makes me feel like I proved the potential of us immigrants and refugees in the community that we do have potential, and we can work towards making the whole community better,” said Saeed.

As for where Saeed will continue his academics? The scholarship is applicable at 25 Canadian universities, and he tells Global News he’s narrowed it down to the University of British Columbia, McMaster University or Dalhousie University.

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He plans to study health sciences as he hopes to pursue a career in medicine.

“A part of why I work really hard because one day when I go back, I’d like to prove that we left, but we came back successful, and we are able to rebuild what the war has destroyed,” he said.

“So yeah, hopefully, if I finish studying in Canada, I can one day go back and help rebuild.”

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