Dublin-based medical student Suaad Alshleh got a taste of unexpected celebrity yesterday when EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned her as an example of how Europe could build a future by harnessing the skills, energy and talents of refugees.
Von der Leyen explained that the teenage Syrian refugee had arrived in Ireland dreaming of being a doctor and, just three years later, had been awarded a prestigious scholarship from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.
In her landmark #SOTEU address, @vonderleyen shared the story of Suaad Alshleh.— RCSI (@RCSI_Irl) September 16, 2020
"I think of Suaad, the teenage Syrian refugee who arrived in Europe dreaming of being a doctor.
Within three years she was awarded a prestigious scholarship from RCSI." #NextGenerationEU🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/bYrwinINOK
A delighted and surprised Suaad Alshleh spoke of spending a difficult first year in Direct Provision with her mother, but then going on to study medicine.
She said she hopes her story will inspire others to dream big, no matter what kind of barriers they face.
Next week, we will put forward the New Pact on Migration. We'll take a human & humane approach. Saving lives at sea is not optional & those countries who fulfill their legal and moral duties or are more exposed than others, must be able to rely on the solidarity of our whole EU.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) September 16, 2020
Let’s hope that her story will also help EU member states to see the 12,000 migrants left homeless after their camp was destroyed by fire on the Greek island of Lesbos as people with talents, skills and potential who have a lot to contribute to any country far-sighted enough to offer them refuge.