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Jesuit Education: A Special Gift

Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2013

The following piece, written by electrical engineering alumnus David Njuguna '08, M.S. '10, was extracted from the proposed Jesuit University of Eastern Africa's JU e-Newsletter.

I believe that the best gift one can ever be given is education; not just any education, but one that allows for respectful exchange of ideas. Leaving the comfort of my home in Kenya, I travelled to the USA to study at the Santa Clara University School of Engineering. Though not my first choice, attending a Jesuit institution turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me in my quest for higher education. It has allowed me to see the world in a different light with respect to the importance of social justice, ethics, community, freethinking, and building, using the engineering skills that I learnt during my time there.

The values that I shared and obtained, while in this community, have afforded me the opportunity to have a better understanding of the world as a whole. I remember with nostalgia substituting food for fines in the library, for overdue books. I did not mind the penalty knowing that though I was fined it helped me put food on the table of a needy person. For me, education at a Jesuit institution came with some very special characteristics, key among them being the level of intellectual rigor encouraged by the teaching staff who continually set very high expectations for the students in both their studying and community activities. We learnt the spirit of community, the sense of embracing different kinds of people from all parts of society, as well as the integration of both ethics and social justice values. All this with the goal of making better future leaders that have a sense of purpose, driven by the right values for the human race and encouraging free thinking on all topics irrespective of their palatability. I fondly recall chatting with friends at Benson Center over a cup of coffee, enjoying an invitation for conversation and lunch with the Jesuits at their residence at the University.

I believe that the Jesuit University of Eastern Africa will provide a higher level of education that has yet to be experienced in this region. It will be an education centered in a high level of thinking, and doing at the same time; more so for the local community. An education grounded and steeped in ethics and social justice as the pillars of building a new community that respects each other in spite of their ethnic differences. An education that will set the beginning of changing Africa, one student at a time, by showing them that real change is possible through individual participation. Later, helping their fellow citizenry within their communities as a whole instead of following the “me first” mantra that has produced the current social quagmires.

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