Sudan refugee Nyanchor Dak is October’s Fund the Future scholarship winner -- and she says she couldn't afford college without it.
Dak's journey has brought her from tragic violence in her homeland in the Sudan to new hope here in Alaska.
Dak doesn't talk much about where she came from, or how she got here. It took some time to get the full story, about a Sudanese girl who grew up a political refuge, who in great tragedy changed her own destiny.
As a little girl in Africa she hated going to pre-school. Her dad would bribe her with Coca-Cola -- that's one of her best memories.
“They killed my dad and my nana the same time, on the same day,” she said while thumbing through a photo album.
Their family had fled to a refugee camp in Kenya, but it provided little refuge. Rebels killed her father and grandmother in front of their home. After her father's death, Dak decided she would try to love school because it was important to her dad.
“It's kind of like their memory, you know,” Dak said.
She may not the best student in class, but she works harder than others.
Her determination stood out to West High School guidance counselor Megan Tompkins, who knew without a scholarship Dak wouldn't be going to college.
“Going to college for her isn't a sure bet,” said Tompkins. “It's something that she's going to have to work hard on in the future.”
Her mother, Rebecca Chon, brought the family to the United States in hopes they could get the education she never had.
She often prays her daughter will have a chance to go to college.
“God showed me the way,” Chon said.
The 17-year-old says when she grows up she wants to be a social worker, so maybe she can help a kid like her.
Contact Ashton Goodell at email@example.com