BACKGROUND AND FAMILY
My name is Francis Ogutu. I am a 2008 graduate of St. Aloysius Gonzaga High School Nairobi (St. Als). I come from a family of three main sisters and many cousins. Out of our older family members, only my grand mother and wife of my uncle are alive. I love my family a lot, though at times, due to distance and time zones, they do not believe me when I tell them I love them. I currently live and work in the state of New Jersey, at the border of New York City and New Jersey.
APPRECIATION FOR ST. ALS OPPORTUNITY
Without the opportunity to pursue my high school academic dreams through St. Als, I do not know how my life would have turned out. I look at my peers who never got the chance for a scholarship and I realize my life would have gotten only worse in many respects. Given this was the only opportunity for me to ever live up the dream of being someone who can help others, I put so much extra work into my academics. At some point people from the slum where I stayed started making fun of me. “This boy will one day go mad because of studying. He is studying so much while other young men are out here looking for money and chasing girls, but he is looking at books like his life will be lost if he didn’t look at a book.” Looking back now, I am glad I made the choice of taking the opportunity St. Aloysius Gonzaga gave me and acted on it seriously and passionately. Also, I am Always very GRATEFUL to our benefactors for the opportunity they created for me to go to this school. Now I can provide a little bit for my immediate family and even think of extending a hand where and when I can.
STUDIES IN THE UNITED STATES
Upon completing high school, I secured a full ride scholarship to Loyola University Chicago (LUC). Coming to the United States, I was hosted by Ann Marie and Patrick Brennan of Glen Rock New Jersey, members of the Christian Life Community New York Metro area chapter. Ann Marie, Patrick and their many generous friends including David Steinmetz were instrumental in fundraising to help pay off my other school expenses not covered by scholarship at Loyola. I graduated from LUC in 2013, with a Bachelor in Business Administration (Economics). From 2015 through 2017, I completed a Master’s in Public finance degree from New York university. I am currently a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) candidate.
Presently, am working as a Fund Accountant with one of the major Hedgefund Administration companies in North America. I started with Citigroup Hedgefund Administration and recently Citibank sold the business to SS&C Technologies Inc, where am currently employed on a H-1B visa. In total I have been working in the same field for close to five and half years. The foundation and principles inculcated while at St. Aloysius has allowed me to blend in and interact with the Americans so freely and happily in different environments and contexts. I highly appreciate the uniqueness and special role played by this great nation and its people to the rest of the world.
While in the United States, I have never lost touch with the St. Aloysius community, former students as well as current students. Social media has made the distance so close. I follow the progress of the school every chance I get and sometimes even get involved in Alumni activities remotely just because my friends from St. Aloysius know I care about the school.
ST. ALOYSIUS ENGAGEMENTS
Driven by this care, I am always ready to assist in any opportunity to support the school. Against the backdrop of this love and care for the school, I recently joined a School of Hope Foundation Associate Board here in the United States. My role, given I live closer to New York city, is to work with other New York Chapter members to formulate fundraising ideas and share with chapters from other parts of the United States such as Chicago, Washington DC, and St. Louis.
As part of the Associate board, I decided that I would want to lead by an example. Therefore, I subscribed to the fundraising database for the school so that every month a small amount is withdrawn to support the dorm building at St. Aloysius. Sometimes I wish I could give everything to the school, having given me the base opportunity that has been a guide to where I have reached so far and where I will be in the future. I am also part of the team that is advocating for the growth of the St. Aloysius Alumni organization so that one day most of us will get an opportunity to appreciate our school in different ways.
IS DORM REALLY NECESSARY? YES, IT IS VERY NECESSARY
Talking of the dormitory plan, I wish back then I had a dormitory. As I said earlier, I used every single opportunity I got to study. However, given the noise conditions in Kibera where I used to stay with my uncle and aunt, I could not stay and study at home. Sometimes I was forced to stay out late and wake up early in search of a quiet study space. We did not have libraries in most parts of Nairobi, let alone my neighborhood, and the closest public library was about 30 minutes away and closed early. I really struggled to find a space to study. In fact, one day I ran into a den of thieves who nearly beat me up for walking on the streets at 4:30am to look for a quiet place far away from home to study. I personally felt the real joy in my heart when Fr. Terry Charlton, S.J. shared with me the plans to build a dorm for the students, who have been going through so much just to acquire a peaceful environment to study. That little dollar that automatically gets withdrawn from my account each month, I know will add something to make this dream come true.
I am currently in the United States under a temporary work visa in the last of the two terms offered. First, given I have realized I can do much for the school either monetarily or through building awareness, I plan to look for ways to extend my stay in the United States post the work visa expiration. However, if that does not materialize, I have a Master’s degree from New York University School of Public Service trained in Public Finance, and will go back to Kenya with a plan to retrain and serve at the county level government with an aim of promoting the skills and experiences that make the American public sector more effective than in Kenya. Also, I am trying to develop a database of my friends from college who are just getting stabilized in their careers and families to invite them to give some thought to one day becoming donors to St. Als.