This week, Deng Adut was named NSW Australian of the Year.
Receiving the top honour from Premier Mike Baird, Mr Adut shed tears, explaining it was such a surprise for someone who had “never dreamed of anything, even being a fisherman”.
And yet here he is, a criminal lawyer who runs a law group he established to support members of Blacktown’s Sudanese community, while simultaneously studying for his second master’s degree.
What makes Mr Adut’s achievements remarkable is what he overcame to get here. Forced to fight as a child soldier at the age of six in Sudan, Mr Adut was illiterate when he was smuggled into Australia.