Sarawakian youth is first ethnic Kenyah accepted into Oxford University to read law

Chris' parents Vinsien Gau (left) and Maria Dun (right) are proud of his achievement. Photos: Chris Deng Vinsien/Facebook

A Kenyah youth from Baram, Sarawak, has made his community proud by being the first ethnic student accepted into the prestigious Oxford University to pursue a law degree.

Chris Deng Vinsien, who received the offer a few days ago, says whatever he has achieved thus far in his life is a product of all the hard work done by his family and his elders.

"I'll try my best not to squander this opportunity. This new challenge is no longer an adventure for myself alone, but a journey with all of you Sarawakian boys and girls out there who, like me, want to prove that even the humble people in Sarawak can make it big.

"A big thanks to my parents, who have been my primary educators since I was a child. Vinsien Gau, my amazing father who always pushed me to dream big and never be complacent. Maria Dun, my beautiful mother who never forgets to remind me to remain grounded and stay humble.Chris (left) says whatever he has achieved thus far is a product of all the hard work done by his family and his elders.Chris (left) says whatever he has achieved thus far is a product of all the hard work done by his family and his elders.

"My siblings (Christal Asong and Moses Lenjau) are my main competitors, setting the standards high for me from the very start. I am who I am because of these people, whom I hold dear to my heart," posted Chris on his Facebook page on Aug 21.

Chris holds an offer to read law at Magdalen College, Oxford University in Britain in October. According to Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings' annual publication, Oxford University is the best university in Europe and second in the world after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.

Chris was raised in Bintulu and attended a boarding school during his secondary years. He then studied at Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Mukah before pursuing his A-levels at Kolej Yayasan UEM in Lembah Beringin, Selangor. Besides excelling in academics, he was a debater and performed on the sape – a traditional Sarawakian instrument – at school events.

Even though Chris has inspired many, he remains humble and does not think he's overly bright.

"For those who know me, you would know that I am not some genius or prodigy. I am just like you – I play futsal every evening and lepak (hang out) with my friends at night..we are all equipped with our gifts and talents. Make the most out of yours. You'll make it far, it all starts with a single step."

Chris' achievement has gone viral and is being shared on many social media platforms.

Bulan Kuchang Chin posted on his page: "You are truly an inspiration and we are extremely proud of you and your achievement. Keep doing the best and may God Almighty bless you while you study abroad. We pray for you. Bawa bawa 'lepo' ilu (Make our community proud)."

Jaharbujang Laiep commented, "Selamat maju jaya untuk mu wira bangsa. Syabas dan tahniah. Perjalanan mu masih panjang. Cekal dan tabahlah dalam perjuangan. Tunjukkan pada semua." (Best wishes to our national hero. Congratulations. You have a long journey ahead. Be strong and courageous in your battle. Show everyone.)"

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