LAOS-born Lay Phommachanh admits he has had a problem finishing things.
So it was a surprise to him, and his family, when he was able to don a cap and gown for Charles Sturt University graduation in Albury.
Mr Phommachanh, 25, credited supportive lecturers for helping him achieve his Bachelor of Education (K-12 Middle Schooling), a four-year degree.
“To be honest, I didn’t see myself graduating,” he said.
“I initially did a business degree but that didn’t pan out too well.
“I am not the type of guy that really finishes things — I am happy I stuck with it.”
Mr Phommachanh, originally from Laos, arrived in Australia at 13 months old and didn’t speak any English until he was in primary school.
“My parents didn’t speak English, so the only English I knew was from Play School,” he said.
“The transition through school was challenging.”
Mr Phommachanh hopes to one day teach at his old high school, Xavier High.
“It’s my old stomping ground and I want to go back,” he said.
Mr Phommachanh was pleased to be surrounded by his family yesterday, including his parents, three sisters and grandparents who migrated to the US and travelled to Albury for the occasion.
“It means a lot to me for them to be here,” he said.
“I am the first male in the family to graduate university.”
He joined about 350 arts and education students in yesterday morning’s ceremony, before the business students’ ceremony in the afternoon.
Border Express managing director Grant Luff gave an address to the business students, while CSU Professor of Education Sue Docket offered some words of wisdom during the morning ceremony at the Albury Entertainment Centre.
Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann congratulated the graduates on their hard work.
“We have had a great week of graduation ceremonies across all (campuses), continuing in Albury (today),” he said.
“It’s fantastic for us because we get to see the fruits of all our work but also, more importantly, the fruits of the students’ work.”