Born in a refugee camp in Uganda, the prospect of being able to attend university in Australia was unimaginable for Duku. Today, he is a business owner, public speaker, business and law student, QUT Faculty of Law Founders’ scholarship recipient, and a fierce advocate for dreaming big. This is his story.
“When we first came to Australia, adapting to the new life was challenging and I was bullied throughout school.”
Duku Forè and his family immigrated to Australia when he was 10 years old seeking a new life and new opportunities. Duku not only faced the challenges of learning to read and write in English, but struggled with a speech impediment, further compounding the challenge of learning the English language. “The bullying led to fighting, and I was expelled from school in year 10. But after changing schools and working hard on my studies, I started at QUT completing a year of a Bachelor of Human Services before transferring into a double degree of Law and Business,” he said.
Public speaking has not only helped to cure his speech impediment but has led to Duku being invited to many different events and countries to speak, including representing Australia at the 2016 Youth Assembly at the United Nations in New York. “I knew that the more I was placed in a position to speak, the better chance I would have at improving my speech,” he said.
“What motivates me is knowing the fact that when I work hard on something and put my mind to it, I can make it happen. Knowing that I have made it this far and have overcome so much already motivates me to keep going. I always believe that tough times do not last, but tough people do.”
As a QUT Faculty of Law Founders’ Scholarship recipient, Duku benefits from not only the financial assistance, but the various mentoring opportunities the scholarship provides as well. “Being awarded the Law Founders’ scholarship was a life changing moment for me. It lifted the financial burden and gave me the opportunity to be mentored by the Executive Dean of the Law Faculty and a few Judges of the Supreme Court of Queensland. As a scholarship recipient the Law Faculty helped financed my trip to New York to speak at the UN.”
The scholarship is funded by donations from QUT staff, QUT Law Alumni and members of the legal community, with the goal of assisting first-year law students facing financial or personal hardships. Duku praised his fellow recipients, “they are some of the brightest people I have met. Seeing their growth from first meeting them to where they are now truly leaves me in awe.”
“It really humbles me to know that so many members of the community come together to support the Law Founders’ program because I know the impact it has firsthand and how far the contributions really go. Besides the financial contribution, just knowing that someone believes in you enough to want to contribute to your education is truly a blessing. I only hope that one day, I may be in a position to contribute to the further education of others as well.”
Along with his studies and speaking engagements, Duku owns and operates a wholesale supply business in the Hotel and Hospitality industry. He attributes his ability to establish and operate this venture to his current studies at QUT and hopes to continue operating the business well into the future.
Who is Duku’s inspiration?
“My Dad. He is the true definition of resilience. At the age of 50 he decided to go back to Tafe. After getting his diploma, he completed a Bachelor of Human Services and now works as a youth worker, planning to take his studies further and achieve a Masters degree. He told my siblings and me, if he can get a degree at his age, we can do anything.”
What is next for Duku, other than finishing his degree?
“I want to continue my public speaking, helping others to see life from a different perspective.”
If you would like to read more about Duku’s story, he has recently published his book titled, The Poor Kid with Rich Dreams that details his experience of being a teenager in Australia and the challenges he has overcome along the way.
Since its inception in 1997 the QUT Faculty of Law Founders' Scholarship Fund has provided support for over 80 Law students, helping them to realise their potential and make a difference in their communities. If you would like to find out more about the QUT Faculty of Law Founders’ scholarship, visit the website.
If you would like to support other students like Duku, donate here.