Wollongong's Maurice Aloegninou will receive a scholarship on Tuesday night to help fund his educational pursuits since he arrived in Australia about 18 months ago.
Originally from Togo, the 21-year-old grew up in a refugee camp in Ghana and came to the Illawarra with his brother and father, who had been persecuted in Togo for opposing the Togolese president.
Because of the cultural shock he experienced, Mr Aloegninou likened his life in Australia to a first-time driver who does not know where he is going or how to manoeuvre the car.
Education has helped him steer through the resettlement process.
"I had to fill the hole in my life," he said.
"It's like I am an empty book and you have to fill the pages.
"It's hard, it's only done through education.
"You have to grab your life back again."
Fearing he would grow up illiterate, Mr Aloegninou said he appreciated the opportunity to complete the HSC this year at Five Islands Secondary College in Port Kembla.
He is one of three students at the college who will receive the Friends of Zainab Scholarship from the Public Education Foundation. The scholarships are mainly funded by private donors.
Sisters Plae and Bu Meh, from Myanmar, aged 22 and 24, were both looking forward to spending the funds on school fees, books and an iPad.
Bu, who is completing year 11, said education was important to her life and the scholarship would keep her motivated.