He's endured a brutal civil war, learned two languages to chase his passion and received death threats from Islamic State... Sydney GPJamal Rifi was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at the University of Canberra's graduation ceremonies at Parliament House on Thursday.
Dr Rifi dreamt of becoming a doctor at seven years old when his baby brother died. Desperate to escape the Lebanese Civil War, he moved to Romania, the only country where he could get a visa.
He quickly learned Romanian and studied medicine over three years. But while his mind was buried in books, his heart was elsewhere. He'd fallen in love with a Lebanese girl from Australia, Lana, whom he'd met years earlier when she visited family in Lebanon.
Fortunately he scored a place at the Sydney Medical School in the mid 1980s to further his studies (learned yet another language) and married Lana.
"It was hard, but my whole life was hard," Dr Rifi said.
"When you have determination, and when you set your goals clearly and want to achieve them, the impossible becomes possible and the hard becomes easy."
His goals soon extended to fighting hatred and social injustice. Now a prominent leader in the Australian Muslim community, Dr Rifi helped rebuild trust after the 2005 Cronulla riots and was a founding member of the Muslim Doctors Against Violence and the Christian Muslim Friendship Society.
He has received numerous awards, including a 2007 Human Rights Medal, the 2009 NSW Local Hero of the Year Award and the 2015 Australian Father of the Year, which was particularly important to him.
Dr Rifi questioned his role as a father when his children were targeted. A "vicious" Twitter campaign lead by ISIS supporters formed against him after he passionately condemned Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf for tweeting a brutal photo of his son holding a severed head. He was also threatened by the infamous Australian IS fighter Mohammed Elomar.
"There was an explicit call for an attempt on my life and my kids," he said.
"I had to cut the hedges in the front yard, install security cameras and alarms ... I also had to be careful where to go and who to associate with."
But he has refused to be silenced.
"To be honoured by such a doctorate by the University of Canberra is humbling yet exciting and will give me another platform to continue my involvement with my community and work to improve social cohesion in Australian society."
"I always believe actions speak louder than words, but recently my words have had more impact than the whole of my actions put together," he said.
"We need to voice our opinion loudly, clearly, concisely and consistently against such a hateful, barbaric ideology."