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Degree success for Rochdale student who fled Afghanistan as a child

Omid graduates from UCLan a decade after risking his life to reach the UK

A Rochdale student has achieved his education dreams 10 years after risking his life to flee Afghanistan in search of a better life.

Omid Hussini graduated from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) this week with a degree in sports coaching, a decade after he left his family behind in Afghanistan when he was only 13-years-old. Risking his life, Omid walked hundreds of miles through several countries before reaching Europe by holding onto the side of a boat and finally arriving in the UK by hiding under the wheel arch of a coach.

Now 23, Omid is a university graduate after rebuilding his life in Rochdale and then Preston. He said: “It was a really dangerous journey but the alternative was to stay in Afghanistan and risk my life anyway. When I arrived in the UK I was a young boy who spoke hardly any English so it was hard at first but I made sure to take up every opportunity given to me, which has led me to where I am today.”

Omid was fostered by Sandy and Geoff Bolton when he settled in Rochdale. He attended Falinge Park High School then Hopwood Hall College to do a BTEC and Foundation degree in sport before coming to UCLan in 2016.

Sometimes you’ve got to fail to succeed and now I’m so proud to be graduating from University.

“My head wasn’t in the right place during my first year at UCLan and I found it tough,” he said. “Thankfully I was well supported and got back on track. Sometimes you’ve got to fail to succeed and now I’m so proud to be graduating from University.”

Omid enjoys coaching football, tennis and basketball and has worked for Link For Life in Rochdale with children aged 5 – 14 to gain experience alongside his studies. His dream would be to work for a professional football club and he’s already planning to do a master's degree in sports coaching.

Omid added: “When I speak to young people about my experiences, I tell them to take advantage of the education that’s so readily available. I was put into a situation where I had to fight to survive but it’s made me the person I am today.”

He was also handed the Mark Lees Endeavour Award by the University, an accolade given annually in memory of Mark Lees, a UCLan sports development graduate, who passed away in December 2015 after a battle with a brain tumour.

Omid’s foster parents, Sandy and Geoff, watched him graduate from UCLan at Preston’s Guild Hall alongside more than 3,500 fellow students.


Omid Hussini

Lyndsey Boardman | 19 July 2018