A DETERMINED young woman whose father died while she was studying was overwhelmed as she received top grades in her A-levels.

Alishah Assrafally, 19, opened her results at St Thomas More High School, Westcliff, to discover she had achieved an A* in psychology and As in finance, maths and chemistry.

Alishah’s father was diagnosed with cancer while she was studying for her GCSEs at Cecil Jones College, where she said she received a lot of extra support, enabling her to leave with an A*, six As and three Bs.

Her father’s condition continued to deteriorate, however, and he died while she was at Southend High School for Girls.

After the stress and upset of losing her father, she left Southend High with a C in maths, a D in biology and Es in chemistry and psychology, to start again at St Thomas More.

Picking up her results yesterday, a tearful Alishah said she had gained better qualifications than she had hoped for.

“A miracle has happened,” she said. “This year I’ve gone up in everything but maths and did an extended project qualification in the harmful and medicinal effects of cannabis, which I got an A for.

“Everything’s gone back to how it should be – I wanted to go into medicine before but, after this, I need to think about life and what I’m going to do.”

Alishah said the school was very supportive and helped her achieve her goals.

“I put in the work,” she said. “I went back to basic GCSE stuff and that helped a lot, as well as the help I got my lovely teachers.

“They did so much work to help me – they marked 30 essays for me, even though we were only given five to do for homework, and never complained.”

St Thomas More headteacher Gemma Ackred added: “Alishah has done incredibly well and she should be so proud of what she’s achieved – we certainly are.”