A Syrian refugee who made it safely to Canada less than two years ago is now marking a significant achievement: Mohammed Al Saleh has graduated from college. 

He fled Syria with brutal memories of detention and torture.

"I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I didn't want to spend another minute in that country," Al Saleh said last December.

Now, he's receiving his health assistant diploma from Drake Medox College, with plans to work toward a degree in nursing.

"I'm so glad that I was able to get back in the healthcare field because I have a background in medical from Syria," said Al Saleh.

"Well, Mohammed has always been a very successful person. He has been through a lot of obstacles back home and abroad, but clearly he's a man who has purpose and who has persevered through all of those challenges," said Angela Del Bianco with Drake Medox College.

Al Saleh's sponsor, Deana Brynildsen, was a stranger when he arrived in Canada. But now they're close friends.

"Oh, I'm really, so proud of him, and I'm so glad that I can represent his family for him to see him graduate here today," she said.

As Al Saleh continues to work toward his career goals, he'll soon have more support in New Westminster — his mother, brother and two sisters are coming to Canada this summer.

With files from Jesse Johnston