Jorge Davila Flores' lecturers and classmates put down his frequently sleepy demeanour in class to constant, irresponsible partying.
Little did they know that it was because the Colombian born student was doing three different jobs in order to survive and finance his full time study in Perth.
Jorge, from Woodvale, was named Central’s International Student of the Year at a special ceremony last night at the Empyrean Function Centre in Northbridge. The annual Student Awards officially recognise, reward and promote student excellence at Central.
Jorge's story is quite remarkable.
Raised by a mother and blind uncle, Jorge arrived in Perth in 2008. He immediately began a course in English. In the beginning, he could only communicate using a variation of the three basic phrases that would tell people his name, age and origin. Jorge's father in Colombia was only financing his education fees, so the 17 year old had to finance all his living expenses in order to stay.
He began by acquiring two jobs – one was cleaning in the late afternoon and at night he worked as a shelf filler.
Interested in Petroleum Engineering, a friend of Jorge's recommended Central Institute of Technology and hence he enrolled for an Advanced Diploma in Oil and Gas Engineering.
Not long after beginning his studies his family back in Colombia began facing financial trouble. To help out, Jorge took a third job, which meant he would also be working every morning from 4.30am to 7.30am.
For two subsequent years Jorge lived on 4 hours sleep a night, while holding down three jobs and completing full time study.
"I never gave up on my future. It did not hurt that much every time I dreamed of graduating and getting a job on an Australian rig. Sometimes I think I must have used magic to find the time for assignments and exams. I certainly must have got through two tons of Arabica coffee beans”, said Jorge.
In addition to completing the course, Jorge decided that there needed to be a new resource to better connect the course graduates with future employers.He joined forces with fellow students and arranged for the production of a new course brochure that detailed all the skills they could bring to industry following graduation.
"In the future no student will hear from employers "I've never heard of this course before". Our hard teamwork has left not only a brochure, but a legacy", he said.
Despite his notable achievements, Jorge remains a modest and thoughtful young man with wisdom beyond his years. Characteristics that are evident from quotes throughout his award application form such as:
"Why would you answer that you are not too bad when someone asks you how you are? Is that the value that you give to your life and everything you were given just by birth?"
Read more about Central's Student Awards
CRICOS Code: 00020G