My story starts in high school, where I attended a public school in Western Sydney. The school housed students that were involved in a lot of bad habits, such as drugs, smoking, fighting… I wouldn’t say it was an intellectual school per se. While I wasn’t involved in too much trouble, I also wasn’t into my studies too much as I soon came to be.
It was during Year 8, 9 and 10 that I was working in carpentry and my boss offered me a job with him. And it was tempting: I wanted to leave school and continue working with him because I enjoyed it: I was making money that I hadn’t seen before.
I spoke to my brother about my options and it was then that he advised heavily against the path I was content to follow: ‘don’t do it, you’re going to waste your life.’ After discussing my future yet again with my mum, and she persisted I stay in school. For her, sake, I did.
In Year 11, I had started tutoring at Chalkwall, with Wesam Krayem. When I first began, we did an Algebra test: I came last with a result of 33%, with all of my new classmates demolishing me.
It was then that I took tutoring seriously with my competitive nature taking the wheel, and this started to reflect on my results at school. It was when people started asking me for help that I knew I was way ahead, because Chalkwall had covered half of the topics with my class half way through the year.
I later received an offer from a principal of a new school. After some push and shove from both his and my part, I decided to trial the new school. I was reluctant, though; my heart wasn’t committed into studies. I was lagging behind my classmates that I felt were so much smarter than me, there was so much pressure to do better than I thought I could and the environment was different to anything I was used to. My first ever English class I had at my new school put things into perspective for me: I was making noises while a classmate was reading a passage from a book aloud, and that got me into a surprising amount of trouble. I hated the culture shock and wanted to leave, thinking that I was wasting my time and energy – but I was advised by my brothers, Wesam and the principal to push through, so I did.
I was immature, I didn’t care, I was indifferent. I was always looking for a good time, a good laugh. In hindsight, I see how weak my character was and how necessary it was to improve. Those at Chalkwall that helped me strengthen my attitude brought me back to my roots by reminding me how my parents raised me and that really put things into perspective for me. Directly and indirectly, my teachers Tarek, Wesam and Stephen all helped me in this regard.
I saw how willing Wesam specifically was to assist me, whether it be by giving me his number to contact whenever I wanted, staying back with me after class, giving me extra resources, to even buying me lunch. This element of care was completely abstract to me coming from my old school. So when I saw my tutor putting so much effort and trust in caring for my progress, it hit me: why aren’t I caring about my own work?
So I did.
In the transition from Year 11 to Year 12, I decided to become proactive and so before the new year started, I had already done module 1 of Biology and Chemistry before the school even started it. I wanted to come first. I needed to come first. I finished four whole text books for Extension 2 Maths. That’s every single question, from A – Z.
I ranked equal first in Extension 1 Maths HSC and received a result of 99%.
I ranked first in the Extension 2 Maths class and I received a result of 97%.
I ranked first in Biology too with 94%.
I ranked second in Chemistry with 93%.
That left me with my final ATAR of 99.35% and was awarded DUX of the school, presented to me by none other than Wesam himself, which meant a lot to me.
Looking back, the best part of my resilience was how much I grew in my personal life, giving up bad habits and improving my behaviour. I became much more independent and I needed no one or nothing to push me. And it’s continued now. I’m set in my ways and my parents can now trust me that I’m self-disciplined enough to not slack off in my studies anymore.
Resilience, for me, is pushing through when you want to stop. When everything around you is telling you to stop and give up because it’s so much easier to do, you just keep pushing forward. And I did push forward.