Munera Sheikh-Mao, 19, of Kensington Aldridge Academy, beat cancer and achieved a stunning 3As in her A-levels (Image: Munera Sheikh-Mao)
Munera Sheikh-Mao began to feel unwell when she started sixth form and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma A Ladbroke Grove girl who beat a debilitating rare form of cancer which struck as she started sixth form achieved 3As at A-Level and has won a place to study English at Queen Mary University.
Munera Sheikh-Mao, 19, achieved a stunning 3As in English, Religious Studies, and Politics at Kensington Aldridge Academy, despite being diagnosed with cancer in her first year of study. Half-way through her first year of sixth-form in early 2017 Munera began to feel very unwell and was unable to attend school. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer, in April 2017 and left school unable to sit her exams that summer.
In September 2017 she began Lower Sixth again while still having chemotherapy and missing school for appointments. That summer she received an E in her Politics mock, but a year later she managed to achieve 3 As in her A-Levels. Munera said: “To know me redoing the year was worth it is a very nice feeling.
“I never thought I could get 3As.”
Juggling treatment appointments with revision was difficult, said the Ladbroke Grove resident who felt the chemotherapy affected her ability to focus. “I felt the information was just not going into my head – it was really hard to keep going and revising. She added that she found politics particularly hard to revise for as she had two years worth of content to keep on top off.
“I kept telling myself to keep doing the best I can but I was failing the whole year.”When she received three As, surpassing her offer of ABB, the 19-year-old was over the moon. “I was so shocked and surprised but I was so happy to find out all my hard work paid off. “I wanted to exceed my offer – I wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve that.”Munera’s English A-Level was two marks short of an A* and is in the process of a remark. Part of the teenager’s determination comes from the experience of her parents Hassan, a minicab driver, and Sahro, a care worker.
“They left Somalia during the civil war so they didn’t have the chance to have an education. “They are so proud of me.” It is a happy time in Munera’s family as her elder sister Muna just graduated from university. Through hard work, resilience, and belief Munera managed to make a success of a difficult situation and she advises people who may be disappointed in their results to not give up.
“A lot of people look down on retaking exams but if you don’t get what you wanted don’t give up – retake again and do subjects that you enjoy. “The feeling you get when you get the results and when the hard work pays off is unbelievable.”
Rob Pavey, Vice Principal of Kensington Aldridge Academy said the whole school was so proud of how hard Munera has worked: “It’s an amazing story not just of individual success, but of the resilience of our whole community through some difficult times. “She’s a wonderful young woman, and we feel enormously privileged to have taught her in the Sixth Form. “We know she will do brilliantly at Queen Mary’s and wish her all the best for her degree and her future.”
The Ladbroke Grove resident said she is delighted with her results and excited for university life. “I have got a chance to move on with my life and I’m so happy.”