OAK LAWN – High school students in Oak Lawn, Illinois, honored their Syrian classmate with a video tribute, choosing her as the most inspirational student at their school.
“The idea came up in sociology class. My teacher Mr. Kuchyt had Faima as a student,” friend and fellow Oak Lawn Community High School (OLCHS) senior Tasneem Jaber, told Oak Lawn Patch.
“Her name was brought up and we were all saying how amazing and studious she is.”
Jaber was talking about her fellow friend Fatima Akili, a refugee from Syria who has impressed students and teachers alike with her courage and work ethic.
Promoting the school’s diversity, Fatima’s friends, along with OLCHS history teacher Christopher Kuchyt, created a video tribute to honor her during the school’s Global Society Festival.
Fatima, her mother and siblings fled their home in Syria with just the clothes on their backs and settled in Oak Lawn four years ago.
As her father stayed behind in Aleppo, she experienced horrors of war at a very young age.
“When she was 12,” Tasneem said, “she sort of got drafted into becoming a nurse. She tended to the injured.”
Settling in Oak Lawn, Fatima has her both eyes fixed on education.
“She’s always at the top of class,” Tasneem said. “When she came here she had to learn a new language and build herself back up.”
The honors student dreams of becoming a surgeon and hopes to return one day to Syria to help the people there and rebuild her country.
She’s applying to colleges and recently had an interview at Harvard University.
“We wanted to spread the word that diversity isn’t a bad thing,” Tasneem said.
“You can’t put a label on someone just because of the background or where they come from. They’re trying to seek opportunities that weren’t available at home because of bad government. Not everyone who comes here comes with bad intentions.”