Local Student Excels Despite Challenges

Qosay Aleleiwi Faced Tough Obstacles, Including Not Speaking English, When His Family Moved to Canada From Syria

Focus on Youth

By Phill Potter

Name: Qosay Aleleiwi                                   

Age: 18

School: St. Francis Xavier High

Grade: 12

Parents: Hasan and Khalidia Aleleiwi

Brothers: Ibrahim (13), Hussein (12), and Hisham (6)

Sisters: Bothaina (17), and Shahad (8)

Pet Peeve: “Individuals who take advantage of other people.”

Part-time Work: “I am currently not working due to previous Covid-19 restrictions. However, now that things are opening up, I’m looking for summer job opportunities.”

Favourite Subjects: “This year I took Calculus and Vectors, Advanced Functions, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, English, and Religious Studies. My favourite subjects were Advanced Functions and Biology. I enjoyed Advanced Functions because I got to use math to solve real world problems. Biology was especially my favourite because I learned many health-related issues. With the information I learned in this class, I was able to better understand and help my parents with their medical issues and concerns.” 

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure? “I enjoy reading news articles any chance I get. I read them to be informed of what’s going on in the world. I especially focus on political news because I like learning and understanding different perspectives. During the last year, I read a lot on COVID-19 news, specifically vaccination studies and their medical concerns. This kept me up to date on this subject and it allowed me to confidently get vaccinated.”

Who is your favourite author? “My favourite author is Paulo Coelho. His book, The Alchemist motivated me to keep pushing to do better in school and learning English, especially when I first came to Canada. The quote, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”, has always stuck with me. It keeps me motivated to keep pushing for my dreams, because eventually, they can come true.”

What is your greatest accomplishment? “My greatest accomplishment was persevering through my academic career in Canada. When I first left Syria with my family, I knew very little English, never used new technology, and was missing more than a year of schooling. It was very hard to transition into Canadian schooling. To help myself, I always took summer school, night school, and repeated courses to better understand the material.

“In addition to extra schooling, being the oldest child meant a lot of responsibilities towards my family. Trying to balance this, along with extracurriculars, was difficult. However, I was able to persevere and get accepted to my first choice program for university.”   

School Activities: “Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I was unable to participate in activities at school. However, in previous years, I enjoyed participating on the Wrestling Team.”

Other Activities/Interests: “I enjoy playing soccer. In the summer, I organize soccer games with the children in the neighbourhood. This is to help them have some fun, especially the ones that don’t go to camps or other activities on their school break. A lot of my time is spent helping my family. I help my parents with English translations, and my 5 siblings with their school work. With these responsibilities, and course schedules, it was hard to participate in other activities.”

Career Goals: “I’ve been accepted to Biomedical Science at the University of Ottawa. I hope to work hard during my undergraduate and get accepted to medical school. My dream is to become a doctor, helping people who are in communities where medical care is limited and inaccessible. This is especially important for me, because I’m from a small village in Syria, and I have seen firsthand the challenges people face trying to get basic medical care.”  

Comment: “This year has been tough due to COVID-19. Going virtual was a hard transition for me, between balancing school work and the new quad semesters. However, although difficult, the teachers at St. Francis Xavier have been a great support to me. I’m grateful for all the hard work they have put in, especially with keeping me on track towards my academic goals. Not only did the teachers work hard, but I also received great support from the school’s office, especially my Guidance Counselor, Justin Doyle. This year has pushed me to keep going, even when times are tough. I learned to appreciate everyone in my life and not to take them for granted. I’m excited to start the next stage of my academic career!”