More school work would not be high on most teenager’s wish lists, but that’s exactly how Achan Lual Majok plans to spend a timely $1000 boost.

The Doonside Technology High School student last week accepted the Public Education Foundation’s Friends of Zainab Scholarship, which is open to senior secondary and tertiary students from a refugee background.

The scholarship was established in 2002 by Holroyd High School principal Dorothy Hoddinott, to help young refugee student Zainab Kaabi finish school and enter university.

Achan, 17, said she would put the money toward tutoring for maths, her “one downfall”.

“When I got the email telling me I had got it, I was just elated. I was so happy,” she said.

“It makes a huge difference. Because of this scholarship I’m now able to get tutoring, thank goodness. I’m just happy because I’m able to improve on my education.”

Doonside Technology High School student Achan Lual Majok has been awarded the Friends of Zainab Scholarship. Picture: Geoff Jones

Achan has just finished her half-yearly exams and is already applying to study at several universities.

Inspired by her information processes and technology teacher, the year 12 student has her heart set on computer science at the University of Technology Sydney.

She said she’s looking forward to university thanks to stories from her older sister Ateny, a marketing undergraduate at Western Sydney University.

Achan’s family came to Australia in 2003, when she was just three. She doesn’t remember much about that time, but said it was difficult for her parents and older siblings to adjust to the language, the culture, and standing out in their new country.

“In the past, when being a refugee was a big thing, people would look at you differently. And that’s kind of happening now too,” she said.

“It has a huge impact, but I choose not to really look at it that way.

“Right now I’m focused on my education. It’s just disappointing that people choose to treat refugees differently.”

Achan said she hasn’t experienced that negative attention from her peers.

“We’re all a big family,” she said. “The school is lovely. We all treat each other how we would like to be treated, with respect.”

The teenager said she was nervous about exams and starting university, but she planned to enjoy her remaining few months of high school with friends.

Read online