Teacher Marion Mortimer says she first noticed Rose’s potential when she was a student in her year 10 science class.

“Rose had recently arrived in Australia from Kenya and had experienced significant hardship, but she displayed an eagerness and determination to succeed with her studies,” Ms Mortimer said.

The St Albans Secondary College teacher had just been introduced to Western Chances, an organisation that supports young people in Melbourne’s west by sponsoring their education, and decided Rose was the sort of person who would make the most of any opportunity.

Rose was the first student Ms Mortimer nominated for a Western Chances scholarship. That was 11 years ago. She has since organised scholarships for 15 more of her students, while Rose has completed an undergraduate degree in biomedicine at Victoria University and her masters degree in biomedical engineering in China, and is completing a doctorate in biomedicine specialising in breast and bowel cancers.

Looking back, Nyanbol (Rose) Deng Kuol said Ms Mortimer saw the potential in her at a time when she needed support most.

“It was a time when I needed someone to believe in me,” she said. “I owe everything I do now to Marion.”

The 28-year-old South Sudanese-born PhD candidate said every student deserved a teacher who believed in them.

On World Teacher’s Day last Tuesday, Rose thanked Ms Mortimer and all teachers who try to realise the potential in their students.

“You only need one person to believe in you,” she said.

Marion Mortimer and Nyanbol (Rose) Deng Kuol

Marion Mortimer and Nyanbol (Rose) Deng Kuol