A former refugee from Burundi is making it his business to thank Australia for opportunities which have changed his life.
Juvenal Ndayishimiye will graduate with a Bachelor of Business in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Griffith University, on December 15, 2011.
After fleeing Burundi in 2003, the now 32-year-old Juvenal spent six years in a refugee camp in Kenya before being offered resettlement in Australia. The warmth of his reception here in 2009 inspired him.
“When you flee a country and you are welcomed by strangers you consider that a privilege you should give to others,” Juvenal said.
“As a mentor at Griffith University, I encourage migrants, not only from my country, but from other backgrounds to embrace education,” he said.
He is also passionate about helping refugee children stay out of trouble and go to school.
“I am mentoring youth who might be at risk, in particular, from mental health issues,” Juvenal said.
“Many of these children have had a disrupted education and don’t have a vision for the future, so we encourage them to persevere with their education,” he said.
Once he arrived in Brisbane, Juvenal went to TAFE to improve his English so he could pursue tertiary studies. It was at a Griffith Open Day at Nathan campus that he became interested in undertaking a Business degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management.
A scholarship funded text books and a lap top. Hard work and support from Griffith University mentors provided the rest. Juvenal is graduating with a Grade Point Average of 6.29, or an average distinction grade.
While Juvenal is now looking for a job, he thinks he may still have unfinished business at Griffith.
“I think this is just the beginning of my education,” Juvenal said
“My ultimate goal is to do a Masters and then, hopefully, a PhD but even then learning is a process which never ends,” he said.
Juvenal will mark his graduation with a quiet celebration.
“It will be a small gathering of family, friends and youth from the Burundian community,” Juvenal said.
“I especially want to show the children that, with study, anything is possible,” he said.
In other Griffith University graduation ceremonies, Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson and Terry White Chemist group co-founder, Ms Rhonda White, will each be awarded an honorary doctorate at the Gold Coast Convention Centre today. Griffith graduation ceremonies continue in Brisbane and the Gold Coast until Saturday.