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Multiple degrees for multiples

Friday 6 December 2019 7:09pm

Twins-SoP-image
The School of Pharmacy's multiple graduation (from left) twins Yingyue and Qiaoyue Wu, twins Nadeen and Dareen Saleem and two of three triplets Weam and Wala Edwik.

The Bachelor of Pharmacy graduation is a family affair this weekend, with three sets of multiple siblings all set to walk across the stage.

Nadeen and Dareen Saleem, originally from Syria, and international students Weam and Wala Edwik, of Libya, and Yingyue and Qiaoyue Wu, of China, all graduate with their degrees on Saturday.

Nadeen and Dareen-image
Dareen and Nadeen Saleem, of Syria.

Nadeen and Dareen were sadly forced from their home of Damascus, Syria’s capital, as civil war made it unsafe for them to remain. Along with their parents Mohamad Saleem and May Taha, and siblings Yasmin and Ahmad, they immigrated to New Zealand.

When they first arrived in the country they spent six months learning English, but they had not found their transition to Kiwi life easy before they began their Foundation Year at Otago.

It was at Otago that they began to make friends and find their place.

Once they completed their Foundation Year they signed up to Health Sciences First Year, armed with a passion to get into one of the health sciences fields. However, they were not set on which path to take.

“Our mum was a pharmacist in Syria and she suggested we do pharmacy but neither of us wanted to in the beginning,” Nadeen says.

"We want to study and do something good for the community and for society."

However, after two pharmacology lectures in their health science course the twins decided they would pursue pharmacy.

Ultimately, what they had witnessed during the war in Syria had given them a different perspective on the need for pharmaceuticals.

“Back where we come from there were lots of people with head injuries and trauma who ended up with schizophrenia, or Parkinson’s disease.”

Seeing that reality made the pair want to do something, Nadeen says.

“We want to study and do something good for the community and for society.”

The pair say studying at Otago was a different experience compared to overseas because there was more access to the lecturers.

“It makes it more interesting and you get more information. It motivates you to work harder,” Dareen says.

This week also marked another special moment for the family as both Nadeen and Dareen, along with their mother and other siblings became citizens.

The pair will part for the first time after graduation when they go off to separate pharmacy internships, with Dareen heading to Christchurch and Nadeen to Oamaru.

Qiaoyue and Yingyue have lived in Dunedin since secondary school. Their parents were keen to have them study in New Zealand so they began their journey at St Hilda’s Collegiate.

Wala and Weam-image
Wala and Weam Edwik, of Libya.

When Wala and Weam first arrived in New Zealand, along with their triplet Wafa, they were destined for Auckland University. However, the busy hustle and bustle of the city had them directing their studies elsewhere and soon they settled in Dunedin.

All three studied Health Sciences First Year and at the end of the year Wala and Weam were accepted into Pharmacy, while Wafa was accepted into the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.

Life at Otago was a bit difficult at first for the pair.

“It became much easier as we progressed through the years. We got used to it,” Weam says.

After graduation the pair are hoping to find internship spots and become accredited pharmacists.