Nhial Deng, a 24-year-old South Sudanese who lived in the Kakuma refugee camp was named Global Student prize winner on 18th September 2023.
The $100,000 award sought to recognize youths who have made a lasting impact in their surrounding communities. He was selected winner amongst 4,000 nominated candidates from 122 countries.
Nhial won the award by virtue of his ability to create a safe space for young ones to heal from war-inflicted traumas and influence the lives of his peers and society beyond.
“I am deeply honoured to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Nhial Deng on winning the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2023. Nhial has overcome unimaginable adversity to keep advocating for a better future, not just for himself, but for thousands like him,” said Heather Hatlo Porter, CCO at Chegg.
“Nhial’s journey also echoes the perseverance of countless students throughout the world who, despite overwhelming odds, show great courage to keep studying and keep striving for a brighter tomorrow.”
Born in South Sudan, the exceptional student fled the country in 2010 when his village was attacked by armed militia. In what was a traumatic and restless journey to Kenya, he found solace at the Kakuma Refugee Camp.
He has resided there for the past decade. Through the UNHCR Child Protection program, Nhial was assigned to a foster family that brought him up.
For Nhial, he always knew that education held the keys to a brighter future. He grew up wanting to become a journalist and found comfort in a school he enrolled for.
In his high school studies, he set up a journalism club and established the Refugee Youth Peace Ambassadors, an initiative that worked on peacebuilding, youth empowerment and social entrepreneurship.
After high school, Nhial incessant hunger for more knowledge to help his community did not wither. Mainly relying on his smartphone, Nhial would take free online courses on peace and conflict, human rights, international affairs, English and Journalism.
During the Covid 19 pandemic, the student created a digital awareness campaign aimed at tackling misinformation and providing information on the virus to over 40,000 people.
In 2021, Nhial established SheLeads Kakuma – a program that sought to address gender inequality and streamline gender equity work in the Kakuma refugee camp. His work has led to positive impacts in the lives of 20,000 young people at Kakuma.
He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Award, the World Vision Hero for Children Courage Award 2023 and the FilmAid Student Award 2021. At 24 years, he serves on 8 committees and advisory boards, including 2 UN committees.
Nhial has promised to allocate 50% of the award prize money to construct the Kakuma Leadership and Innovation Centre in Kenya, which will feature a library and innovation hub.