NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes with 2017 Brother John Taylor Memorial Prize recipients Akur Juach and Hayley Thompson, along with NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) chair Tom Alegounarias.
ARRIVING in Australia from a refugee camp in Kenya at the age of five, Akur Juach from Auburn's Trinity Catholic College has been recognised for beating every obstacle in her path to achieve outstanding HSC results last year.
She is one of two recipients of the 2017 Brother John Taylor Memorial Prize which is awarded each year to students who have overcome "significant adversity" to achieve academic success.
Leaving her parents and other siblings behind, Miss Juach came to Australia with her grandmother, uncle and two sisters, and was initially frustrated by the language barrier and worked with ESL teachers to improve her English skills.
When her father was killed in an accident in Sudan in 2007, her mother and three siblings joined the family in Australia and while she continued to struggle to achieve academically, by her senior year she had set out to become the family's first entrant to university.
After achieving a band 6 in Legal Studies, Studies of Religion 1; band 5 in English (Advanced), Mathematics General 2 and Modern History; and Band E4 in English Extension 1, she is now undertaking a degree in psychology at the University of Sydney.
At a ceremony at Parliament House last Monday, Education Minister Rob Stokes congratulated both Miss Juach, and the second recipient, Hayley Thompson from St Philip's Christian School in Port Stephens, and wished them every success in their university studies.