Habibah Rashwan of Brighton College Dubai, who is Head Pupil now in Year 12, had recently scored five 9s, two A*s, one 8, with value added +2.7, in her GCSEs Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Despite undergoing major spinal surgery and while still recovering from the operation, a British girl in Dubai recently became her school topper in GCSE exams.

Habibah Rashwan of Brighton College Dubai, who is Head Pupil in Year 12, scored five 9s, two A*s, one 8, with value added +2.7. She was named ‘Brightonian of the Year’ in the school’s awards for 2022 owing to her resilience and success.

Her medical condition saw her undergo major spinal surgery in the run up to the exams, forcing her to attend six weeks of classes remotely.

Her strength

“My strength came from my family and teachers who had faith in my abilities and perseverance. I am so thankful for the support I received, because I can truthfully say that this is what kept me going. I built a lot of patience while overcoming the surgery. It was a difficult time but I am happy that I found my strength to get through it,” Habibah said.

Habibah had a posterior spinal fusion. “My back now has 11 screws, two rods and a bone graft. Due to scoliosis, my spinal cord curved by 60 degrees and also twisted. Essentially the purpose of the surgery was to correct what had happened and to fix my spinal cord.

She added: “My teachers gave me a lot of support when I got back to school, through one-on-one sessions after school and during lunch breaks. When I travelled to London, I was online learning just before the surgery, and my teachers were providing me with one-on-one sessions. If I had difficulty in the lessons, they helped me not to fall behind.”

On the mend

Habibah said that after her surgery, for a few weeks she was unable to do any schoolwork, because she was focusing on her recovery. “Thankfully, when I was back in school, I was able to get back on track with the rest of my classmates. Preparing for exams was difficult because sometimes I wasn’t feeling well after a school day and needed that rest, so eventually I tried to balance my revision and downtime, and I’m glad to see that it paid off. When I got back I did revision techniques like active recalling and consolidating the content,” she said.

Habibah’s health is now recovering.

Habibah reacts to receiving her exam results Image Credit: Supplied

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Goals and ambitions

Habibah’s favourite subject is Biology; she enjoys learning about the wonders of the human body.

“My chosen A-level subjects are Biology, Chemistry and Psychology. So I will be studying them for the next two years, and then hopefully attending university, although I still have not decided on the course.

Additionally, my time at the hospital was an eye-opener, because I really appreciated how doctors and nurses immensely cared for their patients and how they not only helped us to physically get better but also emotionally and mentally, when we’re anxious or wanting to give up, they gave me the support I needed to persevere and recover. They hugely influenced me, and my goal is to have that same impact on others.”