Scholarship success for UEL student who only learnt English aged 12

Jameel Shah

Jameel Shah - Credit: UEL

Sports therapy student Jameel Shah has traded the University of East London for the University of Windsor, in Canada, for the summer.

The 25-year-old is the first from the university to win the Society of Sports Therapists’ student travelling scholarship to Canada,

Jameel’s placement allows him to see pre-season training for many of the university teams and experience collegiate sport, first hand, Canadian style.

“There’s so much that it can offer – it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain some professional experience in a completely different environment,” he said.

He beat students from 22 other British universities to win the scholarship, something even more remarkable when 13 years ago he couldn’t speak a word of English.

He arrived in London as a 12-year-old asylum seeker fleeing the civil war in Afghanistan in 2003, and after a lot of hard work, went on to get 14 GCSEs at A* and A. His success continued into A-levels, obtaining three Bs and one C grade.

“I got such good grades that I didn’t know what to focus on,” he said. “And none of my family had gone to university, so I had no guidance.”

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With his science A-levels and his family being of the opinion that being a doctor was a good profession to pursue, he chose to study medicine.

But his grades weren’t quite good enough, so instead he chose to do biomedical science at Brunel, although he dropped out after a year.

It was while working in a gym that he discovered the UEL course, and while studying has gained work experience with Derby County and West Ham United.

He is now set to graduate with first class honours later this year.