Dreams can come true. This is Jacqueline Jijide‘s unwavering belief, a conviction that has carried her through life’s ups and downs. She has shattered the limitations set against her, becoming not only the first graduate in her family but also excelling in her role as a Programs Officer, youth leader, and virtual assistant in Malawi. Jacqueline joined The ROOM Fellowship last year, and has since become a Fellowship Ambassador, serving as an inspiration to peers.
Sharing with us an account of her humble beginnings and her relentless pursuit of success against all odds, Jacqueline is a testament to the profound personal and professional transformation that unfolds when you find your place.
I was born into a modest, single-parent household, the third of three sisters and a brother. Originally from Thyolo in Malawi, we moved around a lot until we finally settled in Dedza. Despite financial hardships, I persevered through school, often juggling chores and long commutes, and learned the value of responsibility and hard work, from the tender age of six.
My mother’s encouragement fueled my determination to excel academically, and it paid off. From primary to secondary school, I consistently ranked at the top of my class. Although the transition to university life proved challenging, I completed my Diploma in Journalism at the University of Malawi Polytechnic in 2014. Despite facing financial constraints and limited opportunities in the media industry, I never gave up.
In 2020, my dream of further education was reignited thanks to the sponsorship of a certain angel in the United Kingdom, Association Zikomo, and Kapadia Education. After graduating with a distinction in Journalism and Mass Communication, I participated in various online courses, including the prestigious ALX Virtual Assistant programme in 2022, becoming the very first graduate in my family.
This is my story, a testament to grit and unwavering resilience that has shaped my journey to success.
I’m the Programs Officer at Ladder to Learning, a grassroots organisation dedicated to enhancing the learning experience in public primary schools in Malawi. I initially joined as a Reading Coach and Programs Assistant at the organisation. Additionally, I serve as a mentor and Programs Assistant at It Takes a Village, a similar organisation focused on reimagining education in rural communities around the world. I’m also proud to be an ambassador of The ROOM Fellowship.
As the Programs Officer at Ladder to Learning, my role involves supervising programme implementation to achieve organisational milestones. I train and oversee volunteers, evaluate programmes, and organise Literacy Hub activities. I also regularly produce programme reports and budgets, set programme milestones, counsel students on educational matters, collaborate with schools, and organise community activities.
It means finding an enabling environment to grow in my profession. ALX and The ROOM Fellowship were instrumental in helping me find my place, providing essential training opportunities and motivational talks from various speakers. These sessions supported my personal growth and instilled in me the drive to solve challenges in my community. Additionally, the Fellowship inspired me to take up relevant courses to enhance my professional development, making myself an asset and a worthwhile investment.
My outlook on life has changed significantly! I feel much richer in professional knowledge, since I’ve been given the opportunity to hone my skills. It’s also provided financial freedom, allowing me to pursue my entrepreneurial ambitions confidently. Overall, I am more self-assured, motivated, and optimistic about the future, knowing that I am on the right path to success.
I’m empowered to make a positive impact in the education sector, especially in the government primary schools. By implementing effective programmes and engaging with the community, I can contribute value and create meaningful change. This opportunity also sets me on the right path towards working with international organisations, which has always been a dream of mine.
I want to be able to inspire others with my journey. Many people face challenges due to their backgrounds, but my story shows that dreams can come true. I hope to represent the underrepresented, and encourage girls and women not to give up. Despite facing obstacles, I returned to school and became the first graduate in my family. I want the world to know that trusting God, the process, and never giving up can lead to great achievements, and that they too can be the next big thing to happen in Africa and beyond.
I would say embrace your journey with determination and resilience. Draw strength from your background, no matter how challenging, and let it fuel your passion to make a difference. Pursue education and personal growth relentlessly, as it opens doors to new opportunities. Seek support from mentors, peers, and organisations like ALX and The ROOM Fellowship, as they can provide invaluable guidance. Stay focused on your goals, and never lose sight of your purpose. Remember that every obstacle can be a stepping stone to success. With hard work and perseverance, you can carve a path to greatness and inspire others along the way.
Enrol today in any of the ALX tech programmes to gain access to The ROOM Fellowship, and become part of this network of passionate individuals dedicated to helping you #FindYourPlace.