Living the Dream: Holylight now works as an IT consultant at one of the world’s largest organisations.

Like most students joining St Jude’s in Standard 1, Holylight’s favourite place was at the sports field. She loved playing football and carried that passion throughout her secondary school years.

“I immediately fell in love with the PE lessons and particularly enjoyed playing football,” says Holylight. “I used to give it my all, rain or shine!” she adds with a smile. 

The resources and opportunities at St Jude’s paved the way for Holylight to try out different activities and develop various skills throughout her 13-year spell. Some of her fond memories include exploring her creativity in art lessons. 

“Even though I don't remember creating the best art pieces, there was something magical about seeing your own artwork displayed on the walls of the classroom,” says Holylight. 

In addition to art and sports, Holylight spent her time sharpening her computer skills, particularly typing. She still remembers playing the old penguin typing game and Ubuntu Operating Systems in her early St Jude’s days. This experience inspired Holylight to start developing a passion for computer studies and upon graduating from secondary school, she was confident in choosing a career in IT. 

Good Old Times: Holylight enjoying a computer class in her early St Jude’s days.

“The fact that I had an opportunity to engage with computers from a young age greatly shaped my choice of career,” reflects Holylight. “St Jude’s offered an environment where learning was not just a process but an experience. The strong foundation equipped me with the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to navigate the challenges in STEM fields,” she adds. 

St Jude’s promotes the education and empowerment of girls at the school and tertiary levels. In January 2020, St Jude’s opened a girls’ secondary school to grant even more females the opportunity for free, quality education. The new school particularly encourages female students to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects for it’s recognised that more Tanzanian women leaders are needed in these fields.

In 2024, the Standard 1 and 2 intake of girls was 60%. St Jude’s also boasts an equal ratio of female and male students entering tertiary education in contrast to the national figures of approximately 1-to-28. 

“Throughout my journey, I've often found myself in environments where women were underrepresented,” says Holylight. “One particularly vivid memory is being the only female in my master's class, surrounded by seven male peers,” she adds. 

Despite the challenges, Holylight successfully pursued tertiary studies in IT from one of Africa’s reputable universities. She went on to secure a highly sought-after internship at the World Bank, an opportunity she took concurrently with her Master’s research. While at university, Holylight helped develop an innovative prototype mobile application that aimed at helping victims of violence report incidents to legal and social stakeholders.

“At times, I would take the underrepresentation as a challenge,” reflects Holylight. “But I've come to see it more as an opportunity—an open call for more women to join the ranks of STEM professionals,” she adds.

Remember the Name: Holylight is undeterred and remains motivated despite challenges in her journey. 

Holylight is currently working as an IT consultant at the World Bank, where she is part of a team responsible for managing software assets. A typical day at work involves diving into huge volumes of data using a variety of tools and technologies. The scale and complexity of the datasets challenges her to think creatively and analytically.

Despite having a thriving career at one of the world’s largest corporations, Holylight is far from done. 

“My ambitions are crystallised around academia. I'm particularly drawn to the realms of Generative AI and Big Data Analytics,” says Holylight. “I'm eagerly looking forward to more research and further studies in these areas,” she adds. 

Holylight’s incredible story exemplifies St Jude’s mission and highlights how empowering females to receive an education and pursue their ambitions has a far-reaching impact throughout the entire country and the world.

Showing the Ropes: Hamisi equips government school teachers with computer programs to simplify their work.

At least once a week, Hamisi, a college student pursuing a Diploma in Computer Science and Technology, sets out from his college in downtown Arusha to a government school on the fringe of the city. Once at the school, he leads training sessions for teachers in the use computer programs such as Microsoft Excel and Word. 

“Our school has close to 5,000 students,” explains Ms Dorothea, a teacher at the school. “Updating, managing, and tracking all students’ data is not an easy task,” she adds. 

Initially, Ms Dorothea and her team would manually fill the students’ data one by one into their school’s system, an arduous process that took days and sometimes weeks to complete. 

“Thankfully, a young man showed up for a volunteering spell at our school and showed us the powerful automation of computers,” says Dorothea excitedly. “With Excel, for instance, we could compile and grade examination results within a day or two – a task that used to take us at least a week of exhausting work,” she explains. 

Learning Practical Skills: Dorothea (right) learning how to use computer programs from Hamisi (far left). 

Hamisi first arrived at the government school as one of the 35 volunteers sent to assist under-resourced government schools around Arusha as part of the Alternative Pathways Program (APP) for Form 4 graduates of St Jude’s. 

In Tanzania, the first four years of secondary school are called Ordinary Level (O Level) studies; from Form 1 to Form 4. These are typically followed by the final two years of secondary education which are called Advanced Level (A Level); Form 5 and 6. The APP allows Form 4 graduates (O Level) to pursue a diploma or certificate at college in place of the traditional St Jude’s A Level pathway through secondary school after a semester of community service.

“During my time at St Jude’s, I developed a deep interest in computer studies,” explains Hamisi. “By the time I graduated Form 4, I was confident in my future career path and promptly opted for APP,” he adds. 

His sentiments are echoed by Avity, who coordinates community service for Beyond St Jude’s (BSJ) scholars. 

“Although APP was launched rather recently,” explains Avity. “It has become quite popular among Form 4 (O Level) graduates looking for an accelerated route to a career. We started with six students in 2020, and since then more students have been opting for APP,” he adds. 

Catching Up: Hamisi catches up with fellow CSS volunteers stationed at the school.

As part of the program, APP scholars volunteer for a semester of community service at a government school ahead of their college studies. They typically assist with administrative tasks, exam marking, tutoring, and other areas of need within the schools. 

 “Studying at St Jude’s instilled in me the spirit of giving and community service,” says Hamisi. “So, I was very excited at the opportunity to volunteer,” he adds.

This is demonstrated by Hamisi’s willingness to continue volunteering even after completing his Community Service Semester (CSS) and starting college.

 In 2023, 29 Form 4 graduates joined the APP, the highest number yet! They are currently volunteering in various placements around government schools in Arusha, and like Hamisi, are beginning to making an impact in the community.

Congratulations Scholars: Scholars pose for a group photo at the first ever BSJ Recognition Ceremony.

“Let me start by congratulating the 2022 graduates—Well done! Indeed, your hard work has culminated in this momentous occasion,” says Bibiana, iNGO Chairperson, during the Beyond St Jude’s (BSJ) Recognition Ceremony.

Word of Advice: Bibiana shares wisdom with the graduating scholars.

This morning, St Jude’s alumni are converging on their old school, some seeing each other for the first time in years, for the inaugural BSJ Recognition Ceremony. Today, all St Jude’s alumni graduating with a diploma or degree in 2022 will be recognised in heartfelt St Jude’s celebration.

St Jude’s alumni are scattered across the country, and indeed, the world. Some attend university with the support of a scholarship from Beyond St Jude’s Scholarship Program (BSJSP), while others win external scholarships to support their tertiary education. 

When BSJSP scholars began to graduate from tertiary studies in 2019, just a few representatives from the school could travel the country to attend ceremonies. This new ceremony is first of many to be hosted at St Jude’s, allowing parents, staff and visitors alike to share in this special day.

“The graduation ceremony remains one of the most memorable events in anybody’s life. In a way, it validates the long journey of academic and social preparations that you’ve been on,” says Bibiana proudly.

One Last Word: Benjamin delivers his speech to friends, family and St Jude’s staff.

Feeling grateful and happy, Benjamin, a graduate with a bachelor degree in electrical engineering, believes he’s now one step closer to reaching his goals. 

“A decade or more ago, each one of us walked through the gates of St Jude’s, some of us were not sure of what we wanted to be in the future, others were sure from the get go. We have come a long way,” says Benjamin while addressing the audience during the event.

“We must not forget that we have the responsibility to use what we have to better our communities and help create more future leaders of Tanzania,” he says.

“To our generous supporters, we thank you for your incredible support towards our education. You have taught us a very important lesson about giving back and for that we stand proud and walk tall knowing that you made a difference in our communities and now the onus is on us to pay this forward. Thank you for lighting our way!” he adds.

Graduates this year include those in the fields of health sciences, engineering, education, and business. 

Hats Off: Happy scholars celebrate their graduation. 

These graduates are the fourth cohort of St Jude’s alumni to graduate from tertiary studies, bringing the total number to more than 350. With degrees and diplomas, they are now ready to begin impactful careers, fighting poverty in Tanzania. 

Lembris, an alum of The School of St Jude, is one of those people who has always known what he wanted to do. From the age of eight, Lembris dreamt of being an engineer. Today he is living that dream.

“I was travelling with my parents along the River Wami bridge and I was wondering how it was possible for a massive bridge to be constructed above water,” Lembris recalls. “I began to imagine what we could achieve in Tanzania through engineering. Ever since then I had the dream of becoming a Civil Engineer.”

Lembris’ dream got a kickstart in 2009, when he was offered a St Jude’s scholarship to enter Form 1, the first year of secondary school. With access to highly trained teachers, great learning resources, libraries, science labs and the stable environment of the boarding house, Lembris thrived.

“Getting a Division I (the highest grade possible) in my Form 6 national exams in 2015 gave me the opportunity to be part of the Beyond St Jude’s Scholarship Program (BSJSP), which supported me not only in applying for tertiary education but also by funding my university studies,” Lembris explains.

With the support of BSJSP, Lembris enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at the University of Dar es Saalam in 2016, graduating in 2020.

Today, Lembris is a Site and Office Engineer for a Tanzanian civil engineering business, contributing to projects around the country. Eventually, he hopes to establish his own construction company.

“It it feels good,” smiles Lembris. “The bottom line is that I’m living my dream.”

Since 2019, 289 St Jude’s alumni have graduated from university or college (we call them tertiary graduates).

Of these, 142 attended university with the support of Beyond St Jude’s, while 147 attended by other means.

Now, these tertiary graduates are entering the workforce!

Where are employed St Jude’s alumni working?

Standing Tall: In less than a year, Jesca has made the transition from student to teacher.

At the front of a classroom of more than 50 students stands Jesca. The students are in Form 1, the first year of secondary school, at a local government school and not one of them has a textbook. They share desks and chairs, and listen quietly as Jesca teaches a lesson in physics.

It’s a challenging situation, but Jesca is accustomed to it. This class is just one of the seven streams of Form 1 she teaches – more than 350 students in total. Such a teaching load is remarkable, particularly when one considers that Jesca was a St Jude’s secondary student herself less than twelve months ago. 

Today, Jesca is a proud Community Service Year (CSY) volunteer.

The CSY is the first part of Beyond St Jude’s (BSJ), St Jude’s program to support graduates through to their completion of their first tertiary qualification. A challenging and rewarding year, the CSY is a time for St Jude’s Form 6 graduates to give back to the community through volunteer work, before commencing tertiary studies. Some volunteers give their time and skills in non-academic roles on campus at St Jude’s, while the majority choose to volunteer as teachers in government schools. 

Motivated to Give Back: Jesca enjoys helping others and is learning along the way.

“My biggest motive to join the CSY was to give back to society,” shares Jesca. “There are students out here who need someone to teach them, to mentor them, to share knowledge with them. I get to share what I have learned at school.”

Since the program started in 2015, 636 volunteers have taught 85,000 government school students at more than 100 schools in the community. These students would otherwise have found themselves without teachers in core subjects, like mathematics and sciences.  

There is a particular need for science teachers, which means Jesca’s knowledge as a former PCM (physics, chemistry and mathematics) student is in high demand. Even so, she was apprehensive about teaching physics. 

“At first, I actually wanted to teach mathematics and chemistry, but my school already had teachers for those subjects. They said they needed a physics teacher, so I said, ‘Ok’. Then I wondered, ‘Will I be able to do this?’ But then I thought, ‘People say girls can’t do physics but I studied physics for A Level. So, I decided I would teach it to show girls that they can study science subjects and that physics is not too hard,” Jesca smiles.

When teaching such large classes with limited resources, challenges are sure to arise, but Jesca meets them with a can-do attitude. 

Extra Help: Despite having a large number of students to teach, Jesca tries her best to help those who need additional attention.

“I’ve been able to handle every challenge so far,” she says. “One thing is, it can be hard to manage so many students, but I talked to some experienced teachers at the school where I teach and asked them, ‘How can I handle these particular types of students?’ I also use the skills I learnt during the Work Readiness training week with BSJ.”

During the training week, Jesca and her fellow CSY teaching volunteers received instruction in classroom management, lesson preparation and basic teaching skills.

“The biggest challenge is to attend to every student. You have 40 minutes and you have to teach and reach all your fifty students. But in each class there are different types of students. There are some who can hear you and just ‘get it’ straight away. Then there are some who need close assistance but you can’t divide 40 minutes to speak individually to 50 students,” she says.

Getting to Know You: Jesca finds time to discover her students’ talents.

Despite these challenges, Jesca finds ways to engage students on an individual level. She explains, “I love spending time with the students, getting to know their talents. There are some who can draw, who can sing well or even compose songs. I try to use their talents in their studies to help them be more engaged.”

It’s not just Jesca’s students who are learning; this year has been full of growth for Jesca too. In a few short months, she has transformed from a secondary student into a teacher. Soon, she’ll be transformed again, when she becomes a university student. Jesca hopes to study chemical engineering.

“The CSY is preparing me for the future. I have learnt to make my own decisions, because when I am teaching, I have all the responsibility. I’m learning to be responsible for myself and for the community. Now I can see that society needs people who see the challenges we are facing and then takes action to solve them,” she smiles.

It’s a mature insight for a 19 year old, but not uncommon among CSY volunteers. First and foremost, the CSY is a way to give back to the community, but through their service, volunteers get the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

Teaching and Learning: Jesca and her fellow CSY volunteers Mohammed, Dainess and Yasin, who all teach in the same government school.

This year of community service after their Form 6 graduation gives volunteers, like Jesca, time to challenge themselves, to learn the true meaning of responsibility and to engage with the community as young adults. While challenging, it’s an experience few would trade, as shown by Jesca’s closing words.

“I would tell Form 6 students to do the CSY. People out there are really grateful for what we’re doing and it’s a blessing to help people. It’s a really great experience to make a change in someone’s life.”