When Steven joined The School of St Jude, he immediately knew it was different from any other school. But he couldn’t have predicted the immense opportunities that lay ahead of him.
“I was a Standard 1 student and everything was new to me,” recalls Steven. “From the playing fields to the classroom to the library – it was all eye-opening,” he adds with a smile.
As Steven continued to explore his new school, his curiosity finally found an outlet in the computer room. In the following years, Steven deeply developed his enthusiasm for computer studies making the most of St Jude’s educational resources and opportunities.
“I frequently took part in various regional and national science competitions and exhibitions,” says Steven. “These experiences and exposure inspired me to combine my passion for technology with creativity leading me to develop various innovative projects,” he continues.
One such project was Alice, an artificial intelligence computer program that Steven co-developed with a friend. The innovation was so popular for its ingenuity and functionality that the pair were invited to present their prototype to the government agency for science and technology.
Determined to develop his skills further, Steven resolved to pursue a higher education scholarship at the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in South Africa. The educational institution is renowned for its pioneering leadership and entrepreneurship programs for aspiring African youth. To ensure that he had the best shot at getting the scholarship, Steven knew just the place to go.
“Students begin to develop their career interests at a young age,” says Mr Malisa, St Jude’s Career Guidance Officer. “It is therefore important to prepare them early with career guidance lessons so that they can make informed choices when the time is right. That’s what my office does here at St Jude’s,” he adds.
As a Career Guidance, Mr Malisa routinely works closely with students looking to apply for international scholarships at various academic institutions and advises them on career choices. This includes prepping students to write compelling essays, interviews, and guiding them throughout the application process.
“Luckily, around that time, students from ALA came to St Jude’s for a training seminar,” recalls Steven. “Some of them were alumni of St Jude’s and they gave me some valuable tips in addition to counselling from the Career Guidance Office,” he adds.
Thus, equipped with mentorship from St Jude’s and driven by his unwavering ambition, Steven applied for and successfully got a scholarship to ALA.
Four years later, Steven, now a graduate, returned with four other colleagues to run a boot camp training at St Jude’s Secondary School. Dubbed BUILD-in-a-box, Steven and his team sought to extend their knowledge to help students improve their entrepreneurial and problem-solving skills through creativity and innovation.
“It is a step-by-step strategy that walks students through the process of identifying a problem, developing a solution to the problem and creating a business out of the solution, and then scaling it to reach a wider market,” explains Steven.
The two-day training camp was segmented into various engaging activities for students to learn, practice, and refresh.
“One of my biggest takeaways from this training is the power of teamwork,” says Nelson, a Form 5 student at St Jude’s Secondary School. “It’s incredible how much we can accomplish by putting our collective minds together towards a problem,” he adds.
The open and interactive learning also inspired Nelson to develop his confidence and practice his presentation skills. Despite his generally reserved personality, Nelson admits the engaging activities of the boot camp inspired him to challenge his fears and dream big.
“I think I might even run for a position in the students’ government in the near future,” says Nelson with a smile. “We had sessions where we mimicked pitching our solutions to potential investors. I enjoyed presenting my ideas and it was truly an enlightening exchange between me and my peers,” he adds.
St Jude’s has long maintained a mutually beneficial relationship with the African Leadership Academy (ALA). Over the years, students from St Jude’s have won scholarships to pursue their studies at the academy with many of them returning to facilitate bootcamp workshops for their peers. No doubt Steven’s transformational journey has inspired more students to pursue their dreams and use their skills to create innovative solutions to problems around them.
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