Alek Akuey knows that hard work and determination will take you far.

It’s a lesson she’s learnt from her mother, Abuk Bol, who fled to Egypt from South Sudan with her young family before making Australia home in 2004.

Alek said the family lived in Noble Park before moving to Tarneit last year after buying a house near Ecoville Park.

“At the start it was good … until all the drama started happening,” she said of recent adverse publicity surrounding the park.

“But other than that, it’s a good neighbourhood.”.

Alek, 18, speaks three languages (English, Arabic and Dinka), tutors kids at St Francis of Assisi and volunteers at Edmund Rice camps.

She graduated from Tarneit Senior College at the end of last year and has big plans for her future, but for now is staying tight-lipped on what she’ll do next for fear of tempting  fate.

Her mum, Abuk Bol, mother of seven who has an eighth on the way, studied under bridal couturier Mariana Hardwick and received a Victorian Multicultural Commission award in 2013 and Greater Dandenong’s Corporate Citizen of the Year Encouragement Award in 2015 for her business, The Twitch Collective.