Success is child’s play for Katerina
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’’.