Happy to Be Back: Omega (second from right) returned to St Jude’s as part of the Health Check team.

Every year, St Jude’s conducts health checks for all 1,800 students across its three schools. Health checks help the school identify any health issues of our students and any special adjustments they may need, ultimately, enhancing their overall school experience, well-being, and academic excellence.

Guiding this process is a team of international volunteers who spend two weeks each year at St Jude’s conducting various checks on students. With diverse backgrounds and expertise, these volunteers bring fresh and valuable experience and knowledge to improve students’ health.

We recently caught up with Omega, a St Jude’s alum who volunteered for this year’s health checks. Omega currently works as a radiologist at one of Arusha’s largest hospitals.

What inspired you to join the Health Check team?

One day, I met Gemma at the hospital where I work. We talked and she asked if I was interested in volunteering as part of a health team that was coming to St Jude’s. I was excited at the opportunity and promptly applied for it.  

How did it feel coming back to St Jude’s as part of the Health Check team?

It was a wonderful experience. I had the opportunity to work alongside a diverse team of medical professionals. We had plenty of meaningful conversations and I got to know a lot about what goes on behind the scenes during the health checks.

What did you enjoy most from health checks as a student?

The whole experience was great and a lot of fun. We would ask the team lots of questions and sometimes they brought us treats such as candy.

Did you always want to get into the medical field?

My childhood dream was to join the military. I began exploring other interests as I grew older and ultimately settled for a career in the medical field. It’s been a fulfilling journey ever since.

How would you describe your experience in one word?

Amazing! I’d love to do it again in the future!

A Proud Entrepreneur: Zacharia working in his office.

From a young age, Zacharia aspired to work hard so that one day, he could support his mother and siblings. He put a lot of effort into his studies and greatly improved his academic performance until he became one of the top students in class. His hard work eventually paid off and Zacharia was invited to apply for a scholarship at St Jude’s. 

“And the rest was history,” says Zacharia with a smile. “St Jude’s was like no other school I had seen before. I immediately knew this place would have a lasting impact on me,” he adds.  

Zacharia completed his primary school education at a government school and joined St Jude’s for secondary school. Coming from a government school, he was initially fascinated by the resources and opportunities available at St Jude’s. Zacharia continued his hardworking spirit at St Jude’s where he spent the next six years. In his free time, he tried his hand at different sports and extracurricular activities.

“I have plenty of good memories from my time at St Jude,” says Zacharia. “Some of my best experiences were serving as the Entertainment Prefect and participating in career and science fairs,” he adds enthusiastically.

A Little Throwback: A young Zacharia during his student days at St Jude’s.

After six years at St Jude’s, Zacharia graduated Form 6 with St Jude’s inaugural class of 2015.

In Tanzania, secondary school education is divided into two levels: the first four years are called Ordinary Level (O Level) studies; from Form 1 to Form 4, and the final two years of Advanced Level (A Level) studies; Form 5 and 6. According to a 2017 UNESCO report, only 12% of students who start secondary school in Form 1 complete Form 4, with poverty being one of the main factors for the high dropouts. At St Jude’s, on the other hand, 100% of students who start secondary school in Form 1 complete Form 4, and 100% of the students that choose to continue onto A Level complete Form 6. 

“Graduating Form 6 was a proud moment for me and my family,” reflects Zacharia. “In addition to my academic qualification, I have acquired valuable connections, practical skills and knowledge that are useful to this day,” he adds.

Giving Back: Zacharia with some of his students during his Community Service Year (CSY). 

Zacharia was one of the first students to join the Beyond St Jude’s Scholarship Program (BSJSP) for Form 6 students. As part of the BSJSP, graduates participate in a year of community service, volunteering to teach at understaffed government schools or at various non-teaching placements within St Jude’s. Those who successfully complete their community service placement are then eligible to receive a Tertiary scholarship to pursue their first higher education qualification; enabling them to become the future professionals that their country needs.

“I spent the next year after my graduation volunteering at one of the public schools in Arusha,” shares Zacharia. “It was a fulfilling experience that enabled me to share the skills and experience that I acquired at St Jude’s,” he adds passionately. 

Zacharia now holds a bachelor’s degree in building economics from one of Tanzania’s top universities. He is also an aspiring entrepreneur who is currently building his real estate business. Zacharia has fulfilled his lifelong dream of supporting his family: he has renovated his home, pays for his siblings’ tuition fees, and routinely supports his mother financially. He is living proof of our alumni fighting poverty through education.

St Jude’s is proud to have a network of incredible alumni who remain strongly connected to the school. They regularly give their time as volunteers within the school community, as well as support the opportunities of other students through financial giving.

In addition to supporting St Jude’s, our alumni also look out for one another. They support each other’s businesses, share opportunities, organise reunions, and assist one another in times of need. These are some of the highlights over the past year.

Paving the Way for Others:

Inspirational: Godfrey (left) and Amina (right), two of St Jude’s best-performing students of 2023 joined a prestigious program.

St Jude’s achieved outstanding Form 6 results in 2023. Because of these amazing results, two of St Jude’s top-performing students were selected to join a prestigious program that connects top-performing students in Tanzania with universities around the world.

In Tanzania, the final two years of secondary school are called Advanced Level (A Level); Form 5 and 6. At the end of their A Level education, students sit for a nationwide assessment and those that pass continue with higher education in universities and colleges.

Alex, a graduate of St Jude’s inaugural class of 2015 and a recipient of the program himself, played a pivotal role in helping the two St Jude’s graduates, Godfrey and Amina,  secure these highly coveted spots. To support them on this new adventure, the St Jude’s Alumni banded together to financially support their transport and accommodation costs as they moved to Dar es Salaam to prepare for the program.

Building Team Spirit and Unity

Giving Back: A memorable jersey bearing names of alumni who fundraised to purchase new football kits.

With football being a favourite sport at St Jude’s and Tanzania, our alumni took the opportunity to surprise the school’s football team. They fundraised AU$395 during last year’s Alumni Reunion to purchase much-needed football kits for St Jude’s students. Now our students sport a sharp and coordinated look as they represent St Jude’s in competitions across Arusha and Tanzania. This act just shows the alumni's commitment to enriching the school community.

Wherever they may be, our alumni maintain strong connections with the school and each other.

Words of Wisdom: Francis shares valuable insights with the graduates.

In a world that demands both academic excellence and holistic personal development, students at The School of St Jude excel at both thanks to pre-university training hosted and facilitated by the Beyond St Jude's (BSJ) team annually.

The training aims to prepare secondary school graduates for a journey of self-discovery and growth.

“A pre-university training program like this gives students a much-needed perspective and preparation as they venture into their next stage of academic life,” shares Francis, one of the facilitators of the training.

"I remember when I was at university, such programs were not provided. Nobody guided me on what to study, which university to go to, or how life was going to be,” says Francis.

At St Jude’s, the majority of secondary school graduates opt to join BSJ ahead of their university studies. In the program, they undertake a year of community service where they volunteer to teach at different understaffed government schools or at various non-teaching placements within the school. This further equips them with real-life experiences and skills such as public speaking, time management, patience and resilience.

"Our students have been well guided throughout their time at St Jude's," reflects Francis, adding, “We have a trained psychologist who mentors them remotely, providing invaluable support for their emotional and psychological well-being while they are at the university."

Soaking It Up: Graduates paying attention during one of the sessions.

The training covered a wide array of topics, addressing the multifaceted challenges and opportunities that await these students at university and beyond. Topics ranged from understanding the structure of universities and grading systems to fostering healthy lifestyles and relationships in the university environment. Graduates also delved into issues like mental health awareness, financial literacy, and personal branding in the age of social media.

"I am grateful for the training I received, which has prepared me for a successful university experience," says Saraphina a St Jude’s graduate attending the training.

“My favourite part was the self-awareness activity that we did,” shares Saraphina. “It helped me realise the importance of personal branding and how other people can describe me outside my room,” she adds.

Also sharing his views is John, another St Jude’s graduate, soon-to-be a university scholar. John believes the training serves as a useful orientation to life at university and complements his research at different universities. “We reviewed the prospectus of different universities and studied their rules and regulations,” says John. “This has helped us to know which environment we can be in; how can we study and how can we choose friends. So, the training is very useful and I’m excited to take on the challenges of university life,” he adds.

Learning from the Best: Gloria, St Jude’s Marketing, Strategy and Social Impact Team Lead shares her experiences with graduates.

The training also involved external mentors such as university lecturers, psychologists, St Jude's alumni currently at the university, and St Jude’s staff who offered a broader perspective on crucial topics.

Pre-university training plays into the school’s commitment to shaping well-rounded, confident, and capable leaders who are not only academically proficient but also equipped to tackle life's challenges head-on. As these graduates embark on their next academic journey, they bring a wealth of values and skills to help them make a lasting impact on their communities and beyond.

Onto The Next Stage: Top, Form 4 Celebration and Awards Day at St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School, middle, Beyond St Jude’s Recognition Ceremony, bottom, Form 4 Celebration and Awards Day at St Jude’s Secondary School.

The last quarter of the year is a typically busy time at here at St Jude’s! It is full of graduations and special events to celebrate important days as part of our busy academic calendar. This year was no exception as St Jude’s held three different ceremonies, and a St Jude’s Day all in five weeks.

“It was a memorable experience!” says Luciana a recent Form 4 graduate at St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School. “My favourite part was the Form 4 Farewell, it was lovely to see all the different guests that had come to celebrate with us,” she adds happily.  

In October, Luciana and 113 other students at St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School celebrated the end of their O Level studies with great excitement and pride.

Walking To the Future Like …: Luciana (far right) with fellow graduates during the ceremony. 

In Tanzania, the first four years of secondary school are called Ordinary Level (O Level) studies; from Form 1 to Form 4. Completing O Level education is a crucial step in the Tanzanian Education System. The day is typically marked by a ceremony, where parents, students and the whole school celebrate the graduating class and mark the achievement!

“Completing Form 4 is an important step because I can now specialise in subjects of my interests,” says Luciana. “Also, not everyone makes it this far in their education. That’s why it means a lot,” she adds. 

According to data from the World Bank, only 34% of secondary school girls in Tanzania complete Form 4 education. Factors such as extreme poverty, poor infrastructure, and cultural influences all play a role in the high dropout rates among female students. On the other hand, 100% of students at St Jude’s Girls’ Secondary School complete Form 4 with a 100% pass rate. 

“Graduating Form 4 at St Jude’s gives me a special feeling,” reflects Luciana, who joined St Jude’s from a government school four years ago. “The resources and support from the school gave me a major boost in my studies and career aspirations. I was able to explore my passion in art and sport, not just the academics,” she adds. 

Luciana graduates Form 4 as an aspiring artist, a talented netball player, and equipped with a vast variety of skills in typing, public speaking and creativity. She looks forward to coming back in January to participate in the Special Program’s Post Form 4 Holiday Program, where students have training in leadership, emotional intelligence, typing and ESL. She plans to spend the rest of her time at home during the break honing her artistic skills as well as assisting her siblings with their schoolwork before continuing with her Advanced Level (A Level) studies in July 2024. 

Just two weeks apart, St Jude’s held another Form 4 Celebration and Awards Day, this time at the Smith Campus in Usa River, about an hour away from the girls’ school in Moshono. Smartly dressed in their crisp uniforms and sporting a special graduating badge, the boys, celebrated their achievement with flair, singing and dancing their way to their next stage of education!

A Graduate’s Dance: Dancing was just one of the ways the graduating class expressed their joy and pride. 

“It feels like a dream come true,” says Ramadhani, a recent Form 4 graduate at St Jude’s Secondary School. “I joined St Jude’s as a Standard 1 student more than 10 years ago. Every day since then has been a step closer to this magnificent day,” he adds enthusiastically. 

During his time at St Jude’s, Ramadhani was elected Head Boy twice, won medals in public speaking competitions, and developed his computer skills. He graduates from St Jude’s as a confident young man with leadership, public speaking, and problem-solving skills, and life-long friendships. 

Two celebrations just weren’t enough! St Jude’s also held its second Beyond St Jude’s Recognition Ceremony. A special event that brings together St Jude’s alumni who are graduating tertiary studies with various degrees, locally and internationally. 

“The best part of the ceremony was being able to mark this moment and celebrate my achievement with family and friends,” says Saumu, a Beyond St Jude’s (BSJ) university graduate. “It was also fun seeing my high school classmates again after three years! Was great catching up and reminiscing about our time at St Jude's,” she adds emphatically. 

A Day to Remember: Saumu (left) during Beyond St Jude’s Recognition Ceremony.

Saumu joined St Jude’s as a Standard 1 student in 2006 and proceeded to spend the next 17 years at the school – 13 years as a student, one year as a volunteer, and three years as a BSJ Tertiary scholar. 

Saumu now proudly holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance and wants to use her skills to help other children from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their full potential.

A Full Circle: Steven, an alum at St Jude’s running a workshop training at St Jude’s Secondary School.

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.

Proud Innovators: Steven (left) and fellow student, John, posing with their trophy after winning the St Jude’s Science Fair of 2019. 

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.

In the Spotlight: Nelson sharing his ideas during the bootcamp training. 

“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.