From Africa to CDU - Stephen beats the odds 

Stephen Okot

Stephen Okot’s journey to a career in social work has been more difficult than most.

Arriving in Darwin as a refugee from Uganda, Africa in 2002, Stephen chose to study a Bachelor of Welfare Studies at CDU’s Casuarina campus to enable him to gain employment in Australia.

“I have several qualifications from my country of origin, which are not recognised in Australia. Whilst completing my degree, I wanted to improve my English skills, obtain work experience and an education standard acceptable in Australian education systems,” Stephen said.

Stephen’s determination to succeed resulted in his greatest achievement – gaining full-time employment as a support worker at the Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Program Services Inc immediately after completing his degree last year.

It was the culmination of many years of dedicated hard work and determination, which Stephen credits to his classmates and lecturers that assisted him in finding employment quickly.

“Because CDU is a multicultural campus, I was able to gain support from other students without prejudice. I will not forget the knowledge and guidance of my lecturers and tutors, and the humour from fellow students.

“Now I am aiming to increase my knowledge in social work practices, values and principles and work regulations concerning social welfare. I also aspire to do my masters in social work in future,” Stephen said.

Stephen spends his spare time improving his understanding of social work through books, journals and the internet. He also has maintains a keen interest in world current affairs.

As Stephen reflects on his journey, and what he has achieved so far, he hopes to encourage others from non-English speaking backgrounds to pursue their education as he believes the rewards are worth it.