It's not often that you meet a young person with as much courage, commitment and determination as 2019 St John Fisher College graduate Alissar Azar. Fleeing from Syria, Alissar and her family joined the St John Fisher community in April 2018 with very limited English and the seemingly insurmountable challenge of completing senior school. Fast track two years and Alissar is now attending Flinders University in Adelaide, studying a Bachelor of Medical Science with dreams of one day becoming a doctor.
“I had lots of obstacles and challenges to overcome during my schooling years in Australia. One of the main ones was the language difficulty as English is not my first language and I hadn't studied it back in Syria," Alissar explained.
“Thankfully, the College has an amazing EALD (English as Another Language or Dialect) teacher (Pauline De Mattia-Trimarchi) who helped me to overcome the language barrier and significantly improved my English."
“It was really challenging for me at the beginning."
“I was very scared about fitting in, making friends and doing well in my subjects, especially because everything was new to me; the language, culture and schooling system."
“However, what I didn't know was that I would be surrounded by an amazing and lovely community of teachers, staff and students."
“Everyone in the school was so supportive and helpful making my challenges feel smaller and smaller. It was then that I started to feel that no matter who I am or where I came from, that at St John Fisher, I truly belonged," said Alissar.
Senior School Pastoral Leader Mrs Jo Winlaw worked closely with Alissar throughout her senior year. She said, “Alissar is probably the hardest working student I have ever known."
“The challenges of the language meant she had to work twice as hard to achieve the amazing results she did, including a VHA in Senior English."
“She was such a role model for the other students, in regard to maturity, compassion, work ethic and willingness to speak up about her personal faith."