1. ITV Report

Syrian refugee who studied in Plymouth beginning medical degree

Mohammad Leily wanted to thank the staff who helped him achieve his GCSEs. Photo: ITV West Country

A Syrian refugee beginning a medical career has returned to Devon to thank those who helped him on his journey.

When Mohammad Leily arrived in the West Country four years ago as a refugee from Syria, he could barely speak English.

Now he is starting a degree in medicine.

Mohammad says it was challenging when he first arrived in the UK. Credit: ITV West Country

Mohammad completed his GCSEs at Plymouth City College.

He says it is a positive experience to return.

I did my English course here, did my GCSEs here and it's really good memories I left here. So it's nice to come back and see all the students again.

– Mohammad Leily
Mohammad says he has lots of good memories from his time in Plymouth. Credit: ITV West Country

In 2013 Mohammad was due to start university in Syria, but was forced to flee the country when war broke out.

Arriving in Plymouth with nothing but a few personal items, and no proof of his education he and his family had to start again in a new country.

When I came here I had to learn the language, do all my GCSEs and stuff all again. It was very challenging. All new environment, all new friends. But the college really helped.

– Mohammad Leily
Mohammad completed the Duke of Edinburgh award whilst in Devon. Credit: Mohammad Leily

Mohammad says he was helped by his teachers to adapt to his new life.

He went on to achieve Duke of Edinburgh awards, outstanding A-Level results and a fond appreciation for the West Country.

The people who taught him say he is a great example for other students.

My first memories of Mohammad are of somebody who was very nervous of coming to College and hadn't been in the UK for very long at that point. Certainly he didn't speak a tremendous amount of English - I think he's really quite inspirational. He is somebody who has absolutely worked very very hard.

– Sarah Pink, Plymouth City College
Plymouth City College staff say Mohammad is 'inspirational'. Credit: ITV West Country

Mohammad is about to begin his degree studies and says he cannot wait to get started.

Very excited to start the course really, in the second or first week we start to see patients so I'm really excited about that. I'm excited to make new friends and set a new challenge.

– Mohammad Leily

But going to university is bittersweet, as he leaves behind his family. His father Abdul says his son has always been a hard worker.

When left without electricity in Syria, he remembers charging lights with his car battery, so Mohammed could study for his exams.

Mohammad is excited to begin his medical degree. Credit: ITV West Country

Mohammad is starting at Southampton University this week.