A TEENAGER from Southall became the second-best GCSE performer in his college after overcoming a series of challenges.
Azrat Bilal, 18, achieved excellent grades despite losing his whole family at a young age.
He was forced to leave Afghanistan and had to learn English at the same time as studying for his GCSEs.
Azrat arrived in the UK in 2012 with no English – and has now achieved A* grades in biology and physics, A grades in chemistry and maths, and a C in English.
As students at Uxbridge College take their GCSEs in only one year, they do up to five subjects instead of the many taken in schools.
Azrat said: “When I was a child, I heard my mother say ‘I want my son to be a doctor’ and this has never left my mind. It always gives me a kind of courage and motivation because I want to fulfil what my mum had expected of me.
“In 2005, I lost my parents and sibling in an accident in our village. My uncle took me into his family, but I still faced a lot of problems as an orphan living with a different family.
“The situation in Afghanistan also meant I could not continue my life there. I had to flee my country, leaving everything behind, including friends, family and study, but I was happy that I would be safe in the UK.
“When I first came to Uxbridge College, I felt I had no hope if getting to this stage because everyone there could speak fluent English and I couldn't.
“I had learned a little English, but my pronunciation was so bad I did not dare to speak out loud. But, from that first day, I was so determined and I started working very hard.
“I came to college at 9am, whether I had a class or not, studying until 7pm and then going to Brunel University's library and staying there till 11pm or midnight.
“I have worked hard and it has paid off, but everyone has encouraged me and helped me – what I have is due to my friends and teachers, too.”
Ray Ferris, Director of 14-19 Strategy at the college, said: “It is a real privilege to see how far so many of our students have come during their GCSE year.”