Mossman School dux defies the odds
CUONG "Jack" Nguyen has amazed his teachers, family and friends with his determination to succeed, after coming to Australia unable to speak English and two years later graduating as the Dux of Mossman High School with an OP2.Afterleaving his parents in Vietnam in 2010, the journey has been challenging for Cuong who studied English for five months until he completed an English proficiency test to be accepted by Education Queensland as a student.
"I came over to get a better education and hopefully get a better future, I went to Cairns language school and I knew no English at all, I could write it but could not speak English," he said.
"I got there and studied hard and passed the test with pretty much the best mark you can get and enrolled at Mossman High."
Cuong said he decided to study at Mossman High to be able to live with his elder sister Swin who lives at Mossman and he got work at Mojos Restaurant to help pay his fees to study in Australia.
"I was the first international student for Mossman High, it was good experience, I'm glad I went to Mossman High, everyone is so helpful and the teachers are great, I have a really powerful principal Ms Kachel, she is an amazing woman," he said.
"When I first started (in Year 11) everything was so different, I had no idea what they were teaching me it was so stressful, I didn't know what an assignment is, no idea, I asked my friends and teachers to help.
"Year 12 was a lot easier because I knew what to do with my assignments and working helped me to understand English a lot more and helped with my study, but the best thing is the teachers and friends, they are so great, I made lots of friends."
Principal Deborah Kachel said despite Cuong coming in to the school with very little English he fitted in well and was accepted by everybody.
"He really is a wonderful man and achieved amazing results in the time he has been here and is an inspiration to everybody," she said.
"He was really well accepted in the school because of his nature, his determination and because he has got a wonderful attitude ."
After achieving outstanding results in all of his subjects, Cuong was awarded the dux of the school with a standing ovation from his peers at the presentation night.
"If I can't get a sponsorship or scholarship I have to return home but I definitely want to stay in Australia, the people are so helpful and the community is so great, I live in the best environment here and am so lucky to live here."
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Hard worker: Cuong `Jack' Nguyen came to Australia unable to speak English but is now only two years later the Dux of Mossman High School. Picture: ANGELIQUE PATTERSON