Saima Shafiq Fukumi, a student at the Dignity for Children Foundation in Malaysia, has been recognised by Cambridge University for her outstanding O-Levels results
According to a statement by the school, Saima received not one, but two 'Top in the World' awards for her exceptional results in Chemistry and Mathematics in the 2019 IGCSE O-Levels examinations.
The award is one of the most prestigious acknowledgements given by Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), a provider of the international examinations and part of Cambridge University.
Saima's incredible performance in the exam, which is regarded as one of the most academically challenging qualifications today, surpassed that of over one million students worldwide who took the examination last year.
Described by the school as shy yet confident, the 20-year-old said it took determination and perseverance to obtain the impressive results
"Even before IGCSE, I was hoping to receive the awards. However, I never thought I would be really scoring the highest in the world, for two subjects," Saima told SAYS in an interview.
"I am relieved and very happy that all the hard work has paid off."
She excelled in school, which was at the Dignity for Children Foundation, a non-governmental organisation and school for underprivileged children in Kuala Lumpur.
Saima, who is half Pakistani and half Japanese, said it was difficult living away from her parents to pursue her studies here in Malaysia
"But I took it as a chance to grow independent and strong, so I was able to stay positive," said the student, who was born and raised in Japan and even had trouble speaking English when she first came to Malaysia.
When asked whether she had any big plans for the future, Saima said that she would love to further her studies in medical school after the completion of A-Levels.
"My ambition is to be a doctor and make medication accessible for the underprivileged," she explained.
Dignity added that Saima is among 18 of the best performing students in the school to have received accolades from CAIE
However, while the graduating class had their commencement ceremony on 29 February, the Outstanding Cambridge Learners Awards ceremony to celebrate the special achievements had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, the co-founder of Dignity, Reverend Elisha Satvinder, was immensely proud of Saima's and her classmates' achievements.
"It is heartening to see our students rise above their challenges and create victories in their lives, working a step closer towards their dreams," he said.
"We are proud of our educators as well, for dedicating their time and effort tirelessly, sharing the same dreams as their students [and] to bring out the best in them."
He added that the school is always committed to serve the urban poor, to nurture, and to empower underprivileged children to be world changers through education.
"We hope that this is just the beginning of their successes and would be a motivator for other students to follow in their footsteps."