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Mar 20, 2013 11:26 AM by Ryan Haarer

Sudanese immigrant takes on challenging courses at Amphi High

TUCSON - The Cambridge Academy is a rigorous series of classes with international standards taken in over 160 countries. Amphitheater High School is currently the only school in Tucson hosting Cambridge.

Now 14, Ajang Deng recalls an uneasy childhood in Sudan. He remembers often eating only one meal a day and poor living conditions at a refugee camp in Africa.

"The United States is like going to heaven!" said the Cambridge Academy student.

For Ajang heaven means having a chance at success and Cambridge, being a fast track to college seemed like the way to go.

"They can be done with the requirements of high school by their sophomore year and so that opens up a lot of opportunities. One of the greatest is being able to go to community college, being able to go to Pima for free, said Cambridge Academy instructor, David Rainie.

Finishing a four year course load in two years is no cake walk. The 105 Amphi Cambridge students are cramming multiple honors courses in at once. It all leads up to a board exam at the end of the year, and Ajang is doing everything he can to prepare.

"Every minute of every day he wants to improve. He wants to learn. He wants to end the day further ahead then he began the day. I think it's inspiring especially given where he's come from. The language barrier, the culture barrier," said Rainie.

Once living in poverty, Ajang dreams of being a doctor and given the obstacles he's overcome not much can slow him down.

"You get food, you take a shower every day. You get anything you want. So to be successful in the United States you just need to go to school, focus in school and you get successful," said, Deng.

Since the Cambridge program is only offered at Amphi Ajang travels on a city bus everyday from another part of town to get to class. It's a commute he does without hesitation and with college in mind.

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