Triumphing over adversity

""Guest speaker Claude Francois Muhuza (OE 2001-08) urged boys at QE’s Junior Awards Ceremony to make the most of their opportunities – and he has certainly practised what he preaches.

Having escaped from war-torn Rwanda as a small child, he did not begin primary school until he was six and later spent seven highly successful years at QE, before making his mark at Cambridge University and beginning a career in law.

Born in Kigali, Rwanda, in 1990, Claude spent the first four years of his life there before being forced to flee the country with his mother. During the next two years spent with his mother in Tanzania and Kenya, he had no formal education. Arriving in London, he started to learn English when his mother enrolled him at Harlesden Primary.

Claude quickly established himself as a model pupil upon joining QE in 2001: he was Deputy Form Captain in Year 7, started Year 8 as Form Captain and was chosen to greet visitors at open evenings and School events. He also studied hard, gaining many commendations in the Lower School.

In Year 10, he was appointed as a Colt Prefect and later, when in the Sixth Form, became a Senior Prefect. As a Sixth-Former, he became a skilled debater and was jointly responsible for organising and leading the School’s entry to the European Youth Parliament. The team’s success saw them ultimately being invited to represent the UK in events in Turkey and Greece, which was a first for the School.

His significant contribution to the life of QE was recognised when he was awarded the Chairman of Governors’ prize in his final year. His Year Head’s report praised him as “One of the outstanding students in his year group, or indeed any other, Claude is all that one would wish for in a Year 13 student; he balances academic drive with good humour, while giving of his time freely and openly.”

Claude gained A grades in Economics, English Literature, French and History A-levels, together with an A in the AS Critical Thinking qualification.

Having secured a place at Pembroke College, Cambridge, to read Law, he was elected President of the college’s Student Union. He was presented with the Crowden Award for making such a distinguished contribution to the life of his college.

Claude has consistently lent his time and abilities to the support of good causes. At Cambridge, he served as treasurer to a committee charged with putting on a Law conference for more than 300 Sixth-Formers from around the country and also sat on the 1347 Development Committee, which raises money for causes including an African Scholarship scheme and student support. He was the Publicity Officer for the Black and Ethnic Minorities Students’ Campaign, helping to organise careers events and a diversity week.

Claude (OE 2001-08) is beginning his career at the London offices of international law firm Baker & McKenzie.

He was the guest of honour at QE’s 2012 Junior Awards Ceremony.