Two Syrian refugees with ambitions to become doctors are celebrating after gaining top grades in their A-levels.
They were among several Brighton teenagers who overcame hardship to achieve top results.
One student who needed a year off to battle cancer was determined not to let the disease "take any more" of her life, and achieved three A*s.
Results show A-level grades have increased for the first time in six years.
Sulaiman Wihba and Elias Badin were both given scholarships by Brighton College two years ago after making a "torturous" two-month journey from war-torn Syria.
Mr Wihba, 19, of Hove, East Sussex, got four A* grades in maths further maths, physics and chemistry earning him a place at Queen Mary University of London.
He said: "It's all about payback, being a doctor, helping people. My mum will be so happy.
"My 15-year-old self wouldn't imagine myself here, it's overwhelming. I have been in the UK for two years now, I didn't find it hard to integrate within the new society. I feel really accepted."
Mr Badin, who achieved one A* and three As said it was his "dream" to be studying medicine at Queen Mary University.
Mr Wihba reached the UK by stowing away in a refrigerated van packed with boxes of frozen chips. Mr Badin travelled to Greece on a small boat with 40 refugees packed on board.
Phoebe Pickering, from Brighton, underwent intensive treatment to battle soft tissue Ewing's sarcoma of the kidney before returning to finish off her studies.
The 19-year-old Brighton College student got A*s in Latin, English literature and philosophy and will now study philosophy at Cambridge.
With aspirations of political journalism, she said: "I feel slightly in shock, it hasn't really sunk in yet, I'm very excited.
"The illness had taken so much from my life, I didn't want it to take any more.
"These years determine your whole future and I didn't want it to jeopardise any more."