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School, community help refugee follow his dreams

Bishop Lynch High School graduate Graduate Juac Angoi with family members, from left, mom Nyanpath Daubar, little brother Daniel, sister Ayen, dad Malou Chol Tong and brother Amanual on May 21. (JENNA TETER/The Texas Catholic)

 

By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic

Juac Angoi, a refugee from Sudan in northeast Africa, was just more than a year old when his parents fled a crushing civil war in their homeland 17 years ago.

He said he can’t recall the journey through Egypt to Dallas, but remembers with gratitude the way life unfolded since he started growing up in North Texas.

After his graduation from Bishop Lynch High School on May 21, Angoi said that his most precious memories revolved around the St. Patrick Catholic Church and School family and the Bishop Lynch family—families that welcomed and nurtured his family from its arrival in Dallas.

Many from the Bishop Lynch and St. Patrick communities celebrated the journey of Angoi, who received a full scholarship to play football at Grambling State University in Louisiana, where he will report for summer workouts on June 27.

Angoi always has been as big-hearted as he was big, his educators and teammates said of the 6-4, 315-pound offensive lineman.

He said that the St. Patrick community offered a supportive network as his family became accustomed to its new surroundings.

“What I most remember is they helped to teach me more about God,” said Angoi, who became a U.S. citizen when he was 14. “Everybody helped at St. Patrick—the whole community.”

Therese Sabine, a longtime volunteer with the St. Patrick Refugee Outreach Program and a teacher at St. Patrick Catholic School, said that the outreach helps new arrivals by offering lunch gatherings, supplying household goods and arranging for parish families to mentor refugee families.

A parish family helped Angoi’s father find a job, Sabine said.

“Several families grew close to Juac’s family,” said Sabine, who was Angoi’s middle school religion teacher. “We love him like a son. The school always has been supportive of all refugees. The whole parish has stepped in. Juac and his family became part of our St. Patrick’s family. We’re just so happy for Juac.”

Angoi, who volunteers at the refugee ministry, said that he started playing football in fifth grade. It not only suited him, but motivated him to work hard.

“I was good at it,” he said as the memory broadened a grin that has endeared him to friends and teammates. “I was a bigger kid than most. I loved the sport, and figured I could do something with it.”

Angoi, who works as a lifeguard, said that his high school graduation and college scholarship should give students the incentive to set goals.

“I think it set an example for the younger kids,” said Angoi, who has an older brother and four younger siblings. “I went down the right path.”

He said he has the St. Patrick community and his Friars family to thank.

“He’s been a great part of the school,” Bishop Lynch president Chris Rebuck said. “He’s kind of quiet by nature, but with such an imposing presence. He has a really infectious personality.”
Friars offensive lineman Cole Garcia, who will be a senior in the fall, said that Angoi was like a big brother to everyone on the team, which won the TAPPS Division I state championship.

“Juac stepped into that role for me when my older brother went away to college,” Garcia said. “I spent three hours a day next to Juac six days a week in football. Off the field, we would have two- or three-hour conversations on the phone at night. He exemplified leading by example.”

Despite his athletic talents and popularity at school, Angoi, who was an All-State selection and reigned as prom king, remained humble and unselfish, Garcia said.

“He’s been through a lot in his life, but also had a lot of success,” Garcia said. “He’ll never be the one to gloat. He taught me how to be a beast on the field, not to hurt anyone but how to take a game over with a presence on the offensive line.”

John Searson, the Friars’ offensive line coach, said that Angoi combined his ability to dominate on the field with a joyful disposition off the field.
“When he blocked you, you were blocked,” Searson said. “He was a leader we could count on. He is super well-liked. He loves to laugh. People just gravitated to him.”