Young achievers hear guest speaker’s inspirational story at Junior Awards Ceremony

Former QE pupil Claude Francois Muhuza (2001-08) urged award-winners to make the most of their opportunities when he returned to his alma mater as guest of honour for the 2012 Junior Awards Ceremony.

And Claude has certainly been true to his own advice. He has progressed from war-torn Rwanda as a small child to success at Cambridge University, following a distinguished School career at QE.

Welcoming him to the event, Headmaster Neil Enright told the audience of award-winners, parents and staff: “Claude’s story is a remarkable one and one that I hope is inspirational for boys currently at the School, particularly those of you in the hall this afternoon.

""“He is an Elizabethan who completely embraced everything that the School stands for and has to offer and we are incredibly proud of his many successes and achievements.”

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 when war broke out. During the next two years spent with his mother in Tanzania and Kenya, he had no formal education. He arrived in London at the age of six and started to learn English when his mother enrolled him at Harlesden Primary.

“Claude quickly made a positive impression when he joined this School in 2001 and his leadership qualities emerged soon after,” said Mr Enright. He was Deputy Form Captain in Year 7 and started Year 8 as Form Captain and was chosen to greet visitors at open evenings and School events. Claude also worked hard in his studies, picking up many commendations whilst in the Lower School.

""In Year 10, he was selected as one of the Colt Prefects and later, as a Sixth-Former, was appointed a Senior Prefect. Whilst in the Sixth Form he consolidated his passion for debating and was jointly responsible for organising and leading the School’s entry to the European Youth Parliament. That particular team’s success in the regional and national rounds saw them ultimately being invited to represent the UK in events in Turkey and Greece, which was a first for the School.

“So, in his final year at the School, on an occasion much like this one, Claude’s significant contribution to the life of QE was recognised when he was awarded the Chairman of Governors’ prize,” the Headmaster added.

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.”

""He gained A grades in Economics, English Literature, French and History and French A-levels, together with an A in Critical Thinking. Claude secured a place at Pembroke College, Cambridge, to read Law.

He was elected President of Pembroke College Student Union and was presented with the Crowden Award for making such a distinguished contribution to the life of his college. Claude is also committed to opening access to Cambridge, serving as treasurer to a committee charged with putting on a Law conference for more than 300 sixth-formers from around the country and also serving 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.

Now that he has gained a good degree and completed his studies at the College of Law, he starts at the London offices of international law firm Baker & McKenzie in March 2013.

In the meantime, he has secured a place on International Citizen Service and will be going to Nicaragua in October for a three-month placement with the charity Raleigh International.

""“This was a memorable afternoon,” concluded the Headmaster. “In his speech, Claude encouraged the boys present to make the most of all that is on offer at the School and not to limit their aspirations. He also recognised the important influence of his mother’s support, having now accepted, as he said, that ‘my mother does know best’ – a comment which went down well with the mothers in the audience!”