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There are epic stories, and then there are truly epic stories.

A video for Western Sydney University's "Unlimited" ad campaign profiles one such story — that of Deng Thiak Adut, one of the university's most extraordinary graduates.

In his case, as you'll learn, even the word "extraordinary" reeks of inadequacy because ... well, this guy's just indescribably persevering.


Deng Thiak Adut. Image from Western Sydney University/YouTube.

Today, Adut is an attorney (solicitor, in Aussie speak) who practices in Blacktown, a suburb west of Sydney. But his path to the courtroom was neither expected nor likely.

Three decades ago, he was just an ordinary kid growing up in Sudan. Then, as it always has, war changed that. Adut, then only 6 years old, was among tens of thousands of children conscripted to fight in the Second Sudanese Civil War.

Yes, this stuff is real. And Sudan still has a child soldier problem. Photo by Charles Lomodong/AFP/Getty Images.

The troop of boys marched for 33 days into Ethiopia, living off the land along the way, before going into battle against the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

"Kids. Going to war. You know they're not going to come back because they're going to put in everything they have. We were slaughtered," Adut said in an interview with "Models of Achievement," an Australian documentary series.

At the age of 12, Adut's life was nearly cut short when he was shot in the back during battle.

A stroke of luck brought a wounded Adut and his brother together. They'd both had enough. With his brother's help, he was smuggled away from the conflict into Kenya. In a corn sack. In the back of a truck.

Again, yes, this stuff is real. Image from Western Sydney University/YouTube.

The two brothers found relief at a United Nations compound. In time, with even more luck, they were sponsored by an Australian family and granted refuge in Blacktown.

Adut arrived in Australia in 1998 and finally had the chance to start rebuilding his life.

"My first impression was, 'Wow, I'm going to study. I'm going to finish university.' But how to get to university was not there," he said on "Models of Achievement." "I was not prepared from childhood to the age of 13 to start a formal education."

Image from Western Sydney University/YouTube.

In his first two years in Australia, he taught himself English. He supplemented his learning by chatting with locals at a nearby gas station. "This is where I learned early the good English and the bad words," he said, referring to "bikies," motorcycle gang members who didn't always offer the friendliest encounters.

Adut eventually earned his diploma and continued his virtuous march to keep learning.

In 2005, he enrolled in law school. "Studying [for a] law degree was hard. It was even harder because of my background," he said. But he didn't give up.

And on the night before his graduation, reflecting on how far he'd come, he cried until he physically couldn't anymore.

Image from Western Sydney University/YouTube.

"To be the first person to graduate with a law degree in my family, you can't call it a privilege. You don't give it a name." he said.

Now he wants to help make the journey to a life of safety, dignity, and free will easier for others in his community.

Adut is one of the only — maybe the only Sudanese lawyer in greater Western Sydney. He's been lauded for his work supporting Sudanese refugees both in court and in the community.

And he's a rare ally for a lot of folks in the region because, like in the U.S. and many other places, African Australians face uphill battles every day just because of their skin color — including in the justice system.

Hopefully, after taking in Adut's story, you can take a step back to consider the bigger picture surrounding this one man. Because to learn, to succeed, and to leave behind a legacy of your choosing shouldn't — for anyone — be something that's left to chance.

Watch Western Sydney University's inspiring profile of Deng Thiak Adut:

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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