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Inspirational leaders share words of wisdom

Inspirational: yLead founder Bernie Kelly and School of St Jude founder Gemma Sisia with Nudgee Year 12 student Brett Grabbe-Clare-Nazer


Inspirational leaders share words of wisdom

YEAR 11 students at Nudgee College have already begun preparing for future leadership.

Two inspirational Australians visited the college recently to talk to the students about their work.

Founder of yLead and Nudgee College old boy Bernie Kelly and School of St Jude founder Gemma Sisia spoke with the students about their organisations and how they came to be created.

Mr Kelly was awarded a Pride of Australia Medal in 2009, after founding yLead in 1989 while doing some work at the college.

He told the Year 11 students that yLead had started “in a little room not far from where we are now in Ryan Hall”.

“It is about creating a congruency between communities and being there for each other. It is everything I remember the Nudgee College community being,” he said.

A passion for educating poor children in Africa links Mr Kelly and Ms Sisia.

All groups Mr Kelly takes to Africa must raise money to build boarding houses and classrooms for students at the School of St Jude.

Mr Kelly described Ms Sisia as an “inspiration” while introducing her, telling those present how she has raised “$7 million in seven years to build a school for the poor and worthy” in Tanzania.

“Gemma’s goal is to change Tanzania by bringing in professional people. Those she helps will, in 15 years’ time, give back to (Africa) by being professionals such as doctors, lawyers and surveyors,” he said.

Gemma told the students she valued education.

“I came from a family who valued education and worked hard to send us to boarding school so it was hard to go somewhere and see schools with no qualified teachers and children sharing pencils,” she said.

“Each child at St Jude’s has a sponsor back in Australia to pay the student’s fees.

“In 2002 I could only find three sponsors so we had three students. Today there are over 1300 students.

“The three original students are now in Year 8 and there are three Schools of St Jude as we can’t handle more than 600 students per school.”

Ms Sisia said although the school only took the poorest of students those attending the School of St Jude had to prove they had what it would take to succeed.

Once accepted, students at the School of St Jude must continue to excel academically, with a 70 per cent pass rate required at all times.

“The School of St Jude provides students with a free primary, secondary and tertiary education so we need to be sure that the students we select are worthy of receiving 18 years of free education,” Ms Sisia said.

Year 12 student Brett Grabbe-Clare-Nazer spent a week at the School of St Jude in December after climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to help raise funds for the school and told the Year 11s it was worth the trip.

“It was a great experience and I enjoyed visiting the School of St Jude. I would recommend it to others,” he said.


Written by: Staff writers
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