Syrian refugee and high school student in Regina awarded prestigious Loran scholarship

Forced to flee Syria when bombs started to fall in her community, Sabah Sharif and her family moved to Canada about four years ago.

Up until that point, Sharif said she lived a “beautiful life” and had a “nice childhood.”

Sharif spoke no English when she landed in Regina, but was determined to make the best out of the situation.

“I’ll always be positive and try to forget what happened in the past — not forget, but embrace what happened in the past and take it along with me in my journey,” Sharif said.

The F.W. Johnson Collegiate student began volunteering at the Regina Open Door Society shortly after her move. Through hard work and determination, her efforts began to be noticed.

Now, she is being recognized as a 2020 Loran Scholar — one of Canada’s most prestigious academic awards — for her “unwavering” leadership.

“I remember when she first came to our program she needed help and now she’s helping. It’s really such a great accomplishment,” said Roberto Misterio, Regina Open Door Society’s youth program co-ordinator.

Sharif, part of the Kurdish minority back in Syria, took a keen interest in reconciliation.

“I connected with it because as a marginalized community in Syria, my culture was stripped away from me as well and so I kind of felt that connection that we are in this similar path and we’re both healing, so why not do it all together,” Sharif said.

The award covers Sharif’s university tuition and provides her with mentorship opportunities.

“This is possibly one of the greatest humans I have ever met,” said Colin Neufeld, one of Sharif’s teacher at F.W. Johnson Collegiate.

“I don’t quite know how to explain my pride for this young lady. She inspires me as much as she claims me or any other teacher in this building inspire her.”

Sharif hopes to study science and one day become a pediatrician. She hopes her story can inspire others in situations like hers.

“Instead say ‘I’m going to embrace that pain. I’m going to become a better person.’”

Sharif is one of four Saskatchewan students being awarded this year’s Loran scholarship.

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