By Casey Neill
A Dandenong student from abroad gives homeless people hugs and hands apples to strangers.
But Samuel Shedrack Chukwuweonu says his award-winning actions should be the norm.
“I just believe I’m young and healthy and vibrant, I can use that energy to help people,” he said.
“I don’t think I’ve done something special.
“Everyone should foster and care for people.”
The Nigerian won the International Student of the Year in the Vocation Education and Training category at the annual Victorian International Education Awards.
“I do not want to stand out from the crowd,” he said.
“It shouldn’t be a huge thing.
“People everywhere should take responsibility for taking care of their neighbour.”
The 25-year-old arrived in Australia just under two years ago and is studying an Advanced Diploma of Computer Systems Technology (Cyber Security) at Chisholm Institute.
“My family is in a hopeless environment,” he said.
“I dared to dream. Here I am. It’s a miracle.”
Samuel hands out food to those in need with St Joseph’s Parish Springvale initiative Joey’s Van.
He’s involved with Youth for Christ Melbourne, which runs juvenile justice programs, and gives time to charity organisations Clay Foundation, Hillsong Church and Cross Purpose Church.
“I give hugs to the homeless,” he said.
“They’re just trying to figure life out, just like anybody else.
“Maybe they’ve made some bad choices.”
Despite feeling unworthy, Samuel was thrilled to be nominated for the education award.
“Just to be measured among the finalists was enough for me,” he said.
“I was thrilled by it and excited by it.”
Award winners received a $10,000 scholarship to put towards their studies and will become ambassadors for the government’s Study Melbourne initiative, which promotes Victoria as a leading study destination.