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Cham Deng



Journey to



From the Ethiopian Savanna to Howard Universty School of Law.

     My sister really doesn't recall anything from when my family lived in Africa since she was only two years of age when my family moved to the states, yet our family foundation is a major spark for her (Deng,N). They came here as exiles which implies they had no real option except to leave sudan as a result of all the war a yearning that was going on. Hence, my sister feels exceptionally fortunate and favored on the grounds that despite everything. We have relatives that live there and they are not as lucky as us with regards to class and training openings (Deng,C).

     Fast forward four years, 1998. My family moved to San Diego Californa where my brother, Kuony Deng, was born. The family now consist of five kids. Chuol, Nyajuok, Pel, Yach (who was born in Minneapolis), and Kuony. 

     Civil War in Sudan (now South Sudan) caused Sarah Chan and Yong Rik to travel to Ethiopa with a young Chuol Deng. On July 30th, 1992, Sarah gave birth to her second child, my sister Nyajuok Deng; and little did Sarah know that her child would one day work under the first black President of the United States.

Early Life

     In 1994, my family moved to the states after moving from Sudan to Ethiotpa to Kenya, and now to Minneappolis Minnesota. It was tough on my mom and dad because they didn't know very much english and had three kids with them and had no support (Chan,N).

     Starting school and not knowing english was hard for my family; however, my sister was young, so it really was not a problem for her.

     Moving a lot truly helped my sister concentrate on my school work in light of the fact that since  she didn't have that many friends she could concentrate on her school work so she felt that truly roused her to do well in school. Living in Storm Lake was somewhat great in fact that since it was a small town she could experiment with a bunch of sports and a variety of clubs so she could make sense of what she needed to study when she got to school. She was on yearbook, and the newspaper class so my sister believed that she wanted to be a journalist when she set off for college (Deng,N).

     Moving around when my sister and brothers were more youthful was quite intense in light of the fact that each new school she went to needed to figure out how to make companions everywhere. Additionally, her being the new kid at each school was somewhat intense on the grounds that as the new kid my sister was constantly one of the kids that got harassed a ton for looking changed or being changed (Deng,N).

School Life

“Having lupus has really taught her to really give thanks and cherish all the blessings that we have in life. Having lupus also really motivates me to work really hard to achieve my goals because not every day is promised.” - Nyajuok Deng


     My sister was diagnosed with lupus when she was 15. Getting diagnosed at such a young age was really tough on her because she was always in pain during high school and it was especially hard when she was playing basketball and running track. It always felt like her hardest wasn’t good enough because the lupus made it really hard to keep her energy up. Since getting diagnosed she has tried to work really hard to keep my health as her number one focus because when you have lupus and you are really stressed out or have a lot your mind, you get what are called “flares”. Flares basically mean that you body kind of shuts down on you and you get really sick. During flares, usually, my sisters joints hurt really bad and she gets really fatigued. Her having lupus is tough sometimes because it is called an “invisible disease” so even when she is in pain it doesn’t look like she is sick at all. Sometimes it is tough for her to explain to friends and family.


     When my sister first started college she knew what she  wanted to become, a lawyer. She joined the pre-law club and took all the classes that she needed. Since she was able to take Iowa Central classes in high school, she was already one semester ahead, so during college she took summer classes, so she was able to graduate whole year early. During college she started getting really involved with social justice issues and education.

     My sister graduated from Iowa State with a Bachelor;s Degree. It only took her 3 years! 


“I really cared about helping different communities so I volunteered a lot and I also studied race issues in America and also human rights issues around the world.”

“All of my kids were low income students and most of their parents did not go to college. Most of them were also immigrants and students of color. So it was really great for me to help them because I was once in their shoes (Deng,N).”

     My sisters first job after leaving college was with a non-profit that focused on education. She took this job because she wanted to make an impact on kids lives and also help them to get to college so they can pursue their goals like she was able to. She worked with about 40 students and she helped them prepare for the ACT and helped them fill out their college applications. It was a great experience for her because she met some awesome kids who had some big dreams, but all they needed was someone to help them figure out how the college application process worked.

College Possible Job

     So in 2012 when he was running for re-election my sister got a chance to work for the campaign as an intern. She worked really hard to get people to register to vote and also to get them to think and pay attention to politics. Towards the end of the campaign her boss asked a few of them if they wanted to meet President Obama because they worked so hard on the campaign.

     “It felt really cool to meet and say hello to him because hearing him speak in 2008 was part of the reason why I thought that I could make a difference in the world by going to law school and becoming a lawyer. Meeting him was also really important and historic because college was the first time I really learned the history of how black people were oppressed in the U.S, so seeing a person like him become The President of The United States really motivated me because even though there are so many barriers that black people, minorities, and women face, we can still overcome them and achieve our goals.”

     In the spring, my sister will start an internship at the white house with the United States Trade Representative. The person she will be working for was chosen by President Obama as the head of Trade Relations for the US. Trade is basically the rules in place for countries buying and selling goods between their borders. She will only work under President Obama's leadership for one month then it will transition into whoever Trump Chooses as his Trade Representative.

      “I am just excited that I get to work for the Obama Administration for a little bit(Deng,N)." 




     During college and even before college my sister really enjoyed watching the news and listening and paying attention to politics. During the 2008 election my sister got to meet Obama when he came to Storm Lake, so she got to listen to him speak and tell his story.

“Hearing him talk then was really motivating because he talked about how his story was not the typical presidents story (Deng,N).

Meeting President Obama

“I love living in DC because there is so much diversity and there is so much to do. I meet so many different people all the time and there are so many more opportunities here for work and even for fun” (Deng,N).

After working for two years out of college, my sister really felt like it was time to go to Law School. She applied and was accepted to a lot of schools, but she chose Howard after she visited. The reason why she chose Howard was because of the history of the Law School. The first black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, went to Howard as a student and he has had such a huge impact on America. Also, all the men that worked on desegregation and the Brown v. Board of Education case were all students and lawyers from Howard Law.

Howard Law and DC Life

“Coming to this school was a no brainer because I want to make an impact on the world like some of those lawyers did. The world still has a lot of human rights and civil rights issue and I want to be a part of the solution (Deng,N).”


Chan, Nyarok. Personal interview.

15 Dec. 2016.

Deng, Chuol. Email to author.

15 Dec. 2016.

Deng, Nyajuok. Email to author.

15 Dec. 2016.