Ghina is bubbling over the phone line. She’s 18 years old and is wrapping up her first year at the University of Ottawa where she studies biomedical sciences.

It was New Year’s Eve 2015 when she and her family arrived in Toronto on their way to Ottawa. It was the first day of a whole new world opening up to them.

When they arrived in Ottawa, they settled in an apartment on St. Laurent Blvd. Five months ago, the family bought a home in Orleans and Ghina says everyone is thriving.

“My parents are great. We’re stable and happy. Really, this is home. I remember Syria and I remember living in Lebanon, but this is my home now.”

Ghina knew early on she wanted to study sciences. “In Grade 11 and 12, I took chemistry, biology and chemistry. I really liked genetics and biology, so I applied for a number of biomedical programs.”

She isn’t sure if the next step is medical school. “I might do a masters in sports science. I really love sports,” she says.

“When I lived in Lebanon, I didn’t have access to sports. When I got to Canada, I joined every sport and today I still go to the gym and play intramural sports at the university.”

Meanwhile, her sister Mona is in Grade 12 and is studying technical design. She hopes to study the same topic in university next year. Maria is in Grade 6 and loves music, drama and art. Her youngest sister, Mira is four years old.

“We’re really happy. We’re taking nothing for granted.”