When Warrnambool’s Otha Akoch graduated in 2013 he said he wanted to be an inspiration, not only to Sudanese refugees, but to all mature-aged students.
Four years later he has another reason to inspire the community, after graduating with his Masters of International Relations from Deakin University.
In 2013 Mr Akoch graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the Deakin University Warrnambool Campus with majors in politics and public policy.
At the time he became the first Sudanese refugee in Warrnambool to graduate from the Warrnambool Campus and has now become the first to complete his Masters.
Now aged 54, Mr Akoch continues to promote the virtues of a good education.
“It’s never too late; people need to have this sort of challenge,” he said.
“It was more challenging to go on and do my Masters in terms of balancing time with my family and work commitments.
“There was a lot of support when I did my undergraduate study and I was able to pick it up from there. It was good to graduate surrounded by my family and friends who were there to support me.”
Mr Akoch is now working with South West TAFE, Southern Way and Department of Health and Human Services as a disability support worker. He is also finishing a Masters of Humanitarian Assistance with Deakin University, and hopes to graduate in March 2018 in Warrnambool.
Mr Akoch moved to Warrnambool in 2003, and before returning to study he held a four-year position with Warrnambool City Council working on a migrant settlement program and strategy.
Mr Akoch had studied law before moving to Australia and said Deakin was an ideal place to learn.
“They encourage students to do their best. If there was any difficulty they were there to assist.”