Born in Sudan, Amgad Ajak is now looking forward to a legal career that he hopes will change lives.
When Amgad Ajak first started school in Australia, he couldn’t speak English and had very little understanding of Australia or its culture. But despite the barriers, he always knew that education was one of life’s priorities.
Born in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, Amgad’s first move was to Egypt with his family before arriving in Australia at the age of four to begin a new life in a land that promised opportunity.
‘It took me a few years to really understand Australia’s language and learn its societal norms but my parents always emphasised the need for education. They expected me to grow into someone they could be proud of and who would eventually give back to my community,’ he reflects.
Amgad has made his parents more than proud. Not only did he successfully complete his schooling but now also a Bachelor of Laws with Deakin Law School.
He says he chose to study law at Deakin because the course offered depth and diversity.
‘It’s a degree that provides the opportunity to develop skills not only for a legal professional but for any career. The ability to communicate and strategically analyse different types of situations can be such an underrated skill. Studying law enables you to help others who really need support – lawyers and other legal professionals play a very important role in society.’
Although Amgad sometimes faced racism and discrimination while growing up, he looks back on it as a challenge he learned to conquer.
‘Learning to be comfortable with the person I am, and to stay focused on my goals, has probably been one of the biggest obstacles I’ve had to overcome. As a young kid it can be especially challenging because you’re just trying to live life and make the most of the opportunities available in a new country,’ he says.
Completing almost all of his schooling in Sydney, Amgad moved to Melbourne for Years 11 and 12 where he soon set his sights on Deakin for tertiary education.
‘Friends who were enrolled at Deakin told me it was very advanced and student-oriented with many tools in place to help with studies and social life. Within a few weeks of commencing my studies at the Geelong Waterfront Campus, I knew I’d made the right decision,’ he says.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the course, he adds, was its practical, hands-on approach.
‘I did an internship which really opened my eyes and showed me how a professional firm operates. This definitely enhanced my chances of employment as I knew the type of skills and work that was expected of me.’
He also undertook a Deakin Abroad unit in Denmark which expanded his understanding of global law practices.
‘It was very different to Australia but the experience taught me to how to adapt and evolve which are important skills for jobs in the future,’ he says.
During his studies, Amgad maintained a good life-study balance by working part-time, playing sport, and staying motivated.
‘I fixed a whiteboard in my room where I would write inspirational quotes and messages. These messages changed weekly but they gave me hope and encouragement and they kept me going. I also work part-time as a model and I love playing soccer. One of the highlights of my life was representing my country, South Sudan, in the 2020 Victorian African Cup of Nations,’ he says.
Graduating in October 2021, Amgad is now working as a paralegal with a Melbourne-based criminal law firm and looking forward to expanding his legal career in the future.
‘I’m keen to learn more about other areas, including commercial and family law, but what I’m most looking forward to in my legal career is helping people, changing lives, and leaving a legacy. I want to be the best lawyer I can and make my parents proud. The rest will handle itself.’