It is universally agreed that the pandemic has elicited a response in many young people that will be admired for generations. Resilience, adaptability and strength of character have been on show in abundance at Repton, but one Reptonian has had more than a global pandemic to overcome.  

At just 16-years-old Amir Kadkhodaei fled his home country of Iran with his mother and one of his sisters for fear of persecution on religious grounds. They spent two difficult months in Turkey, before arriving in the UK as legal migrants and it took two years for Amir’s father to safely join them.  

A chance meeting with Old Reptonian, Sir Alexander Elphinston, at a church in Birmingham led to a conversation with Repton School and Amir joined Repton that September on a fully supported place so he could complete his studies.  

Amir, who lives in Derby, arrived at Repton just a term before the full force of the pandemic hit. He was given a warm welcome in Latham House and embarked on four A Levels and one AS Level; whilst English is taught in Iran, mastering the technical nuances required for his academic studies was, he says, at first an enormous undertaking. Undeterred Amir went on to achieve A*’s in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Persian and AS Level Computer Science to secure a place at St John’s College, Cambridge.  

Headmaster Mark Semmence says Amir’s attitude and approach truly sets him apart as a role model for our community and wider society: “Amir has shown exceptional character. Few of us can comprehend the challenges he has faced – leaving behind his home, his friends, his native language and all that is familiar to him at such an important time in his education. He has faced many complex challenges with a sensibility that enabled him to remain focussed on his academic ambitions and deserves our unreserved respect.” 

Amir remains modest about his achievements, saying: “Two and a half years ago if someone had told me that I would be awarded a place at Cambridge I wouldn’t have believed them. The support I have been given by my teachers, tutors, Housemaster, matron and friends has played an important role in this moment and I am enormously grateful to Alex and Repton School for seeing the potential in me.”  

For everything Amir has achieved, Iran remains his home and he hopes to be able to return to the country he describes with warmth and affection: “It is a truly beautiful country,” he enthuses. “It has so much more to offer than the reports on the news would have you believe - a rich cultural heritage, incredible landscapes, delicious food. I hope to return when it is a safer, more stable place.”  

What does the future hold for Amir? For now, a three-year course at Cambridge and beyond that, he hopes, a Master’s degree. But for now, Amir wants to live in the moment: “I am absolutely committed to making a positive contribution, wherever I can, to this country I now call home.”