Suc­cess is child’s play for Ka­te­rina

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Scholarships - Julie Sum­mers

KA­TE­RINA Francis jumped for joy and screamed with ex­cite­ment when she heard she had won a cov­eted Group of Eight schol­ar­ship to study a bach­e­lor of laws- arts ( Rus­sian) de­gree at the Univer­sity of Queens­land.

With only four of­fered each year, it sig­ni­fied a tremen­dous achieve­ment for a girl who taught her­self English by watch­ing af­ter ar­riv­ing in Aus­tralia from Latvia at the age of seven.

Even more re­mark­able is that Ka­te­rina scooped her high school’s English award not as an English as a sec­ond lan­guage stu­dent, but as one of more than 400 tak­ing the sub­ject in Year 12.

Seek­ing to es­cape po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity caused by the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ka­te­rina’s mother used her last free tick­ets as an Aeroflot flight at­ten­dant to move with her daugh­ter to Aus­tralia.

De­spite th­ese dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances Ka­te­rina ex­celled at school, win­ning sev­eral aca­demic achieve­ment awards and be­ing dux of Year 7.

She also found time to com­pete in gym­nas­tics at state level, as well as be­ing a fundraiser for the Cere­bral Palsy As­so­ci­a­tion.

Ka­te­rina con­ceded luck had played some part in her suc­cess. But she ad­mit­ted that in­clud­ing pho­to­copies of all her cer­tifi­cates and prizes, no mat­ter how in­signif­i­cant or dis­tant, in her ap­pli­ca­tion pack­age may have made a dif­fer­ence.

Al­though the $ 6000- a- year schol­ar­ship would al­low her to leave part- time em­ploy­ment as a re­cep­tion­ist in a law firm, Ka­te­rina has cho­sen to con­tinue in the job.

Char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, she sees it as ‘‘ a great op­por­tu­nity to see the law in ac­tion and per­haps ben­e­fit my stud­ies’’.

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