A refugee who worked as a doctor in Iraq before fleeing to Australia is the oldest student to sit the HSC exams this year at 50 years old.
Unable to obtain proof of his previous degree, Hekmat Alqus Hanna is repeating his studies so he can once again work as a general physician after immigrating to the country as a humanitarian refugee in 2012.
Despite his age and experience, Mr Hanna told The Sydney Morning Herald he was nervous about his upcoming exam.
Hekmat Alqus Hanna, 50, is the eldest student to sit for the HSC exam this year
‘I want to do advanced medical science at the University of New South Wales, but I need an ATAR of 96,’ Mr Hanna said.
‘I’m doing my best but I don’t know if my marks are good enough. I hope I can do better in the HSC.’
The father-of-three said he worked as a doctor in a village near Mosul, in Iraq, for 17 years before it became an Islamic State stronghold.
He and his family began receiving death threats in 2010.
They fled to Lebanon where they waited for two years before being accepted into Australia.
Not long after settling in, Mr Hanna enrolled in English classes before starting Year 11 at Bankstown Senior College
Doctors trained overseas can work in Australia if they have proof of their degrees, according to the Australian Medical Council.
Those who do not, like Mr Hanna, have to repeat their studies – which can include six years for an undergraduate degree, followed by three years of training to become a general practitioner, a spokeswoman for UNSW told The Sydney Morning Herald.
The work load hasn’t deterred the 50-year-old, who is the eldest of 12 mature students expected to sit the HSC this year.
‘I have to become a doctor again because in my previous life, I was only a doctor,’ he said. ‘I don’t know how to do anything else.’
Mr Hanna said his wife has also enrolled at Bankstown Senior College and was studying to become a nurse.
Mr Hanna said his wife has also enrolled at Bankstown Senior College (pictured) and is studying to become a nurse