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Osama Sharkia's story

At CCCU, opportunity arises when you are fully supported to thrive. Osama Sharkia came to the UK from Syria as a refugee. Whilst difficult, this didn’t stop him from wanting to further his education, gain new skills, and be able to give back to society. 

Computer Science student Osama Sharkia

Osama always wanted to go to university. Since arriving in the UK, he has gained the qualifications needed to start higher education and undertake a Computer Science degree.

Starting with KRAN, he studied GCSEs. He's now a Youth Ambassador, working to help other refugee youth at KRAN use computers, phones, and the internet. From this, he decided to join CCCU to embark on a degree in Computer Science. 

With friends already at CCCU, for Osama this was a good choice over other universities. But it was also a massive step.

Overcoming challenges at university

Osama’s first language is Arabic, and he had not experienced as much formal study as most other students.

But with the help of his Personal Academic Tutor and the support services offered to students, Osama's confidence has grown, and he feels fully supported.

So far, the Foundation Year has prepared me for academic writing, further learning and presenting. The modules have enhanced my problem solving skills. Working with coding has helped me think differently to break down problems in stages. I use the library for assignments and research, and the staff are great. They are there to help if I need to use the computer or find a book. The academic team have helped with Harvard referencing. Studying for a degree is a great way to learn.

At the beginning, Osama found it more difficult because he wasn't used to studying, was fearful, and lacked confidence to ask questions, especially because of the language barrier.

It was a personal battle to overcome his fears of interacting with others, but through a supportive and welcoming environment, Osama continues to thrive.

Now, with the help of CCCU staff he is confident, interacts in seminars, and has formed a close-knit community of friends.

Supporting others to succeed

The Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) has also been a huge support for Osama, as well as other young refugees. KRAN helps equip them with practical skills and knowledge to start a new life, think about their future, and develop their life skills.

Osama first started to work with KRAN as a trainee, where he assisted other young Arabic speakers to gain confidence in English. He then was made a Youth Ambassador with KRAN’s Youth Forum. In this role, he has supported other refugee youth, has given talks on refugee issues at schools and colleges, and has even been called on to bring his ideas by the Houses of Lords.

Osama has become an advocate for young refugees, to tell their story, and fight for change. His journey to Canterbury Christ Church University started with KRAN, and he now has stepped forward to bring his skills back to KRAN and to young refugees in Kent.

During the Covid pandemic, student course work everywhere went online and refugee students felt particularly isolated. Osama developed training approaches to teach newly arrived young refugees how to use devices, how to interact online, and use the internet safely.

This gave him the opportunity to use his knowledge from his degree and support others who were in a similar position. Through this, Osama gained the confidence to mentor other students and become a supportive figure to many.

Plans for the future

Osama's goal is to work for the UN. Not only does a degree makes that a possibility, but everything else that Osama is getting involved in, he certainly has the drive and passion to make this goal a reality.

For now, he's focusing on finishing his course and wants to work for a local company to gain industry experience.

He's also keen to encourage other young refugees to consider university as it's his decision to go to CCCU that has transformed his future.

You need to take the step, even if you are afraid. Whatever skills you have, university always makes them better. Even after only three months, I’m already better at the things that I was already good at. I write better reports, do better research, and work better with people. University builds your skills and amplifies who you are.

Computer science student, Osama Sharkia, at university