Ten years, four countries, four medical schools and 21 houses later Tirej Brimo, a refugee who fled the Syrian war, is finally a doctor.
Having been just 10 months away from graduating with a medical degree at a university in Aleppo, Brimo was forced to flee his homeland in 2012 due to the war, crisscrossing the MiddleEast before arriving in Britain in 2013.
Last week, he graduated from St George’s University of London – after having been turned away by several medical schools – and is now embarking on his career as a junior doctor in the National Health Service in the north of England.
Brimo expressed his joy with a Facebook post that he said went viral, being shared over a thousand times.
“War can take everything from you except your passions and your love and for me to not give up on my dream and on who I am – I simply rejected the unfairness of life,” Brimo, 27, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
As a refugee, he said he knows what it is like to lose everything and understands the value of compassion – a key attribute of a doctor.
Brimo hopes to “serve humanity” wherever that may be.
“I feel attached to both Syria and the UK. Syria is the sorrow that breaks my heart every single day, the UK is the place that loved me, welcomed me and believed in me – I can’t wait to start contributing to the community,” he said.
Working as a phlebotomist to support his studies, Brimo said language was the biggest hurdle initially, as he had to shift from studying in Arabic to English.
“When my friends did an hour of work I used to do two, to make up for the language challenge,” he said. “I love the English language!” Brimo won praise from London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
“Congratulations to Syrian refugee Dr Tirej Brimo. Londoners are proud you’ve graduated as a doctor here in our city,” Khan tweeted.
Brimo hopes other refugees can be afforded similar opportunities and support.
“Someone once told me, life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, life is about learning how to dance in the rain. I know how difficult it is to go through wars. My message would be, don’t give up on yourself don’t give up on your dream … one day you will get there.”