When St Jude’s Founder, Gemma Sisia, wrote Alex Elifas’ introductory letter to his sponsor in 2003, she already suspected his future was going to be bright.
“I think we will be rewarded in years to come, as I have a feeling Alex wants to go VERY far with his education!” Gemma predicted.
She wasn’t wrong. Alex has gone very far…all the way to Stanford University on a full scholarship, in fact! Stanford University is the second top-ranked university in the United States.
The prestigious college has educated thousands of influential historical figures, including Nobel laureates and United States presidential candidates.
Alex may have aimed high and landed among the stars, but he has never lost connection to his Tanzanian homeland and The School of St Jude.
Alex has brought his St Jude’s journey full circle by becoming our very first graduate to sponsor an academic scholarship for one of our students!
“I decided to become a sponsor in November 2017. After I graduated from St Jude’s, I signed up to Gemma’s newsletter list. Now and then, I’d visit the School’s website and see what was happening but this day was different. I was on the website and had begun thinking about how St Jude’s changed my life.”
“Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to give back to the School when I became successful, but then I remembered there were high school students in Australia who sponsored St Jude’s scholarships,” Alex said.
“I am working whilst completing my studies, so there’s no time like the present to start giving back. I am already successful – I don’t need to wait until I become a doctor.”
Alex shares sponsorship for Standard 3 student, Abie, who, like Alex, enjoys studying mathematics and sciences. “I loved receiving my first sponsorship letter from Abie. It reminded me of times I used to write to my sponsor,” Alex fondly recalls.
Alex will be visiting St Jude’s in July, when he is back home for his summer break, and is looking forward to meeting Abie in person.
“The best advice I will give him is to study hard. We come from the same place and similar backgrounds. I never knew that studying hard would pay off the way it has for me,” Alex said.
Alex is grateful to many St Jude’s teachers who instilled in him positive core beliefs and encouraged him to pursue his dreams.
“Mr Mcharo [Acting Secondary Headmaster] was my neighbour. He used to walk home with me sometimes and once, he told me I would become one of the best students in the country. He saw my potential.”
Another person Alex admires is Gemma Sisia, without whom, a free, high quality education would not have been possible.
“Gemma is very strong, starting a school in Tanzania without knowing where the money would come from, keeping faith that things would work out. I am so grateful to her. She is making an incredible impact on Tanzania,” Alex believes.
In Gemma’s book St Jude’s, published in 2005, she included a short passage about Alex.
“Alex is a gorgeous, hard-working boy, the youngest of many children. I know that things are often tight for him at home but his ambition when he grows up isn’t to try to make his own life more comfortable, but to work with orphans whom he sees as having an even harder life than his own.”
More than 10 years on, Gemma is seeing her dream for St Jude’s, realised through the same young boy she remembers playing on a swing set.
“It was a huge milestone for us when we found out Alex was becoming a sponsor. This is what we want to see: St Jude’s students feeling compelled to give back to their own community. I can’t wait to catch up with Alex again and tell him personally how happy and inspired I am by him,” Gemma said.
With a Stanford degree ahead of him, it’s just the beginning for our Alex, but already, he’s left an indelible mark on St Jude’s. He’s left a legacy which, we hope, many graduates will carry forward.
You, like Alex, can leave a legacy at St Jude’s. With our 2018 Appeal match until June 30, there’s never been a better time to fight poverty through education and sponsor or donate today.