Unique Value: Pupil Reveals The Magnitude Of A Governor’s Active Involvement
Daniel Onyango-Osuga has had the dedicated support of his Governor, and Old Blue, Jan de Walden for the last 6 years. A positive and unwavering presence throughout Daniel’s CH journey, Jan has acted as mentor for advice and guidance. Now, as Daniel approaches a major crossroad with decisions on university and career choices, Jan continues to be a guiding force as he prepares for life after CH.
“Spending seven years at CH requires different types of support- some of which your parents or teachers cannot always give you. That’s where the importance of a supportive Governor comes in. I have personally been extremely lucky to have a Governor who’s been so actively involved in my life; it has enabled me to approach several challenges, both good and bad, with confidence and drive, underpinned by the constant knowledge that I have the support and encouragement of my Governor” explains Daniel. “This is something which I’ve particularly come to appreciate as I enter such a crucial time in my life.”
Currently studying Latin, English, Philosophy and Economics at CH, Daniel hopes to study Law at university and ultimately become a solicitor.
“Jan has given me advice on choosing the right university and making suggestions to help me in my pursuit of a career in Law. But at this stage in my journey, it’s also important for me to gain work experience, and that is difficult to find, so I asked Jan if he knew anyone I could talk to”.
From Jan’s perspective, “a supportive Governor gives Daniel a conduit to the outside world. He can use my contacts and my networks to help him make choices and to move on in his career.” In this way, Jan was instrumental in offering Daniel opportunities to meet with Senior Partners at leading City law firms; ‘Simmons & Simmons’ and ‘Crowell & Moring’.
The significance of having someone to guide pupils through these phases cannot be overstated. “Jan called me in advance of the meetings to help me prepare; giving me advice as well as background on his contacts so I could research their fields and ask relevant questions. I gained a wealth of knowledge from the meetings and also secured a 2 week work experience placement for the summer at ‘Crowell & Moring’. It was a really helpful and beneficial experience which I would not have had were it not for a close relationship with my Governor.”
But it’s not just about access to networks and opportunities for life after CH. Jan explains that “having a supportive Governor also gives Daniel emotional support in the wider sense. It offers him someone outside of his family that he can use as a sounding board, or go to if he’s having trouble with anything. I can give friendly ‘parental advice’ when he needs it, addressing anything in his school reports that I feel merits ‘a chat’ and he will always ask my opinion on how to improve.”
Providing an additional adult figure in this way keeps Daniel motivated to put in the effort needed to succeed. “Jan checks how I am doing, how I am feeling and addresses areas to work on in a way that I don’t get ‘lectured’ which I like. I know his encouragement and guidance will stand me in good stead for the future”.
With an immediate connection through their mutual love of rugby, Jan has supported Daniel on the pitch at CH as well as supporting Harlequins at their home ground together. Building such rapport has helped develop an open and approachable relationship.
“There’s nothing that I couldn’t speak to Jan about, and the same extends to his wife Caryn. I feel so lucky to have been connected to them both. It is the advice element that is so strong, but it’s also really nice to have someone alongside your parents who have seen you grow and develop from 11 to 17, to provide support and encouragement”.
The governor/presentee relationship helps bring life full circle. As an Old Blue, and presentee himself, Jan has had the chance to assist another young person who is progressing along the same CH journey. “You hear ‘The Charge’ when you leave and you don’t pay much attention to it at the time, but as life goes on, you look back on what you’ve achieved, the opportunities you’ve had and how they materialised. CH became ever more at the forefront of that”.
“When I was in a position to be Governor, it was an opportunity to engage with another family who wanted active involvement. It’s a challenging role that’s not to be undertaken half-heartedly, but it is one of the most incredibly rewarding things that you’ll ever do in your life”.
Over the last 6 years Jan has seen Daniel grow from a shy young boy, to become a mature and confident person today. “It’s wonderful to see a child from a difficult background develop as they go through the school – it’s an incredible change, like watching a plant grow. The best thing is knowing that what you contribute, what you say and what you give up your time for is going into something constructive and transforming someone else’s life. The kid’s going to do well – there’s no two ways about it”.
It seems that even now, this cycle of support has made its mark on Daniel, he understands the value of an involved and engaged Governor and is keen to carry the baton forward himself; “one day, I hope to be in a position where I can use my life experiences to support other younger people in the same way that I’ve been supported and given these amazing opportunities”.
So what’s next for Daniel?
“I’ve learnt from Jan that CH can open up so many opportunities but it’s important I chase them up myself, work hard and choose my own path”. Daniel has clearly taken Jan’s advice on board and following a successful application, he was selected for the annual CH student exchange programme in Baltimore, USA, sponsored by the Friends of Christ’s Hospital. He will also be flying out to Kenya on a School trip to support a charitable project with Classrooms for Kenya. Through his own determination to take advantage of this opportunity, Daniel has actively sought trip funding through two charitable grant applications – for which he asked his Governor, Jan, to act as his reference.
About Christ’s Hospital’s Donation Governor Scheme
CH is enormously grateful to our Donation Governors for their support of the School and our pupils. Donation Governors make a significant financial commitment to Christ’s Hospital. They are then elected to the Court of Donation Governors and are able to ‘present’ a pupil to the School who they will mentor during their time at CH. Often this turns into an enduring relationship long after the pupil has left the School.
For more information on becoming a Donation Governor, please contact Sarah Clifton on 01403 247588 or email email@example.com