© Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedSaad Al-Kassab, 22, was granted Australian citizenship last month. It was a major moment for the refugee, who fled Syria in 2013 and was named dux of his Catholic school after teaching himself English in two years
A Syrian refugee who aced his Year 12 exams just two years after teaching himself how to read and write English has become an Australian citizen.
Saad Al-Kassab made national headlines in 2016 after scoring a near-perfect ATAR of 96.65 and being named dux of his prestigious Catholic school in Melbourne.
The 22-year-old, who fled war-torn Syria with his family as a teenager in 2013, revealed he had taught himself English by watching 'Question Time' in Federal Parliament with his older brother Omar.
Last month, he could hardly wipe the smile off his face as he joined 600 other flag-waving migrants in a packed hall in Sunshine, north-west of Melbourne, for a citizenship ceremony.
Almost halfway through his medical degree, he hopes to become a doctor so he can help other survivors and refugees - after witnessing hundreds of people die from injuries that weren't lethal in Syria.
'It's the greatest honour that I'm Australian, I belong here now. I feel honoured that this privilege was given to me,' he told Daily Mail Australia.
'I'm so grateful to Australia for welcoming me and adopting me as one of theirs.'
The impressive young man scored a near-perfect ATAR of 96.65 just two years after learning English (Saad pictured as a scout in Syria before the war broke out) © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
Saad said his father Abdul, who spent 11 years locked up in a Syrian jail from the age of 16 for political protesting, was watching on proudly from the back of the hall.
'Because of his life journey... he doesn't get emotional. (But) he felt so relieved, he's always worried, always thinking what if something happens to me.'
But the milestone meant the world to his mother Amal, who abandoned her career as a chemical engineer to raise him and his siblings in a totally foreign country.
'She was so proud. It means the world to me, she's such a selfless person - she gave up everything for us... I just hope I can make her proud.'
The citizenship was made that much sweeter when Saad received offers last week to study a Doctor of Medicine at both Melbourne University and Flinders University.
Saad had once again beaten thousands of Australian-born students and scored in the top percentile in the state - this time in the Medical Schools Admission Test.
He told Daily Mail Australia he hoped to become a humanitarian doctor after completing his degree. © Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedSaad said he would study his father's battered English-Arab dictionary to learn the language
© Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedThroughout his Year 12 studies Saad continued to learn of friends who had been killed in Syria (Saad is pictured left standing with a close friend who was later killed by a mortar shell)
Living in Homs, Syria, following the unrest of the 2011 Arab Spring - Saad watched on as some of his closest friends were shot dead and locked up without reason.
His own brother Omar, who became an Australian citizen just last week, was arrested without reason and tortured under the oppressive Assad regime.
'Before the war I would go to school, play soccer, go to scouts and hang out with friends,' he told Daily Mail Australia.
'I had those moments that I wished I would wake up and never have to go to school again. My dreams actually came true when the war broke out ... How stupid I was to think that way.'
Saad said his decision to become a doctor was inspired by three Syrian medics who refused to leave his hometown, instead staying to help treat injured citizens.
'That's the determination that stayed with me, and got me to where I am, that's what gave me hope.
'I want to become a doctor who's going to pass on that hope to other kids who were and who are in my position. I was in their position once.' © Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedSaad (right) and his older brother Omar (left) learned English by watching 'Question Time' in Federal Parliament (pictured in the Senate chambers)
© Provided by Associated Newspapers LimitedSaad and Omar fled war-torn Syria with their family when their home in Homs started being shelled by mortars in 2013 (pictured is Homs neighbourhood of Khaldiyeh, in 2013)