For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Jacqueline O’Rourke ’14, who recently travelled to Uganda to conduct research for Queen’s University.
Ridley has always been a part of Jacqueline’s life. Her parents were Heads of House, so she grew up on campus, before beginning at Ridley herself in Grade 5. Over the course of her eight years at Ridley, Jacqueline was fully immersed in all that the school had to offer. She was a gifted debater, skilled athlete, talented actress and valued member of the global organization, Amnesty International. She also held the role of School Prefect in her final year and was a part of Ridley’s first cohort of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme graduates. Upon Prize Day, Jacqueline was able to look back on her time at Ridley and feel pride in her accomplishments and excitement for her future.
She left Ridley to study Concurrent Education at Queen’s University – majoring in Global Development and minoring in French. “I think the fast-paced environment, and academic rigor of Ridley prepared me well for my time at university. I quickly learned that time management would be key to my success at university,” shares Jacqueline. Her programme has given her the opportunity to gain experience teaching; even returning to campus to assist teaching in the Lower School and during our Summer Programmes offerings.
Jacqueline has opted to keep her university schedule as enriching as it was at Ridley; participating in activities that span many capacities and provide a well-rounded experience. She is the Marketing Director for the Queen’s Conference on Education and the co-president of the grassroots organization, Nyantende Foundation, which helps students from the Democratic Republic of Congo enroll in school.
This summer, Jacqueline was the recipient of the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship, allowing her to travel to Kampala, Uganda to conduct research. The opportunity presented itself when Jacqueline’s professor reached out and encouraged her to apply. After her course entitled ‘AIDS, Power and Poverty’, Jacqueline was particularly interested in how alternative methods of development could lead to greater economic empowerment of the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda. The fellowship was the perfect opportunity to give back locally and globally, while satisfying her own intellectual curiosity.
During this once-in-a-lifetime research trip, Jacqueline worked with non-profit organizations, such as Rainbow Mirrors Uganda; an organization that provides employment opportunities to transwomen who have been ostracized due to their sexual orientation. Working with Spectrum Uganda, conducting interviews and attending workshops were Jacqueline’s favourite part of her trip abroad.
“Prior to travelling to Uganda, I was aware of the general political situation, as I had researched the statistics surrounding this issue and the main problems affecting the LGBTQ+ community for my research paper. However, having the chance to interview and listen to the interviewees personal stories and struggles deepened my level of understanding. The resilience, strength, and determination of the interviewees to fight for what they stand for despite the numerous, and often dangerous, obstacles in their way, is something I truly admire.” – Jacqueline O’Rourke ’14
While her focus this summer was research, Jacqueline had some personal takeaways from her time in Uganda. Jacqueline reflected, “this experience truly tested my personal level of resiliency and grit. I have always stated the importance of a growth mindset, and this summer emphasized my need to follow through on this philosophy.” During her research trip, she found herself experiencing many complications and setbacks. Instead of letting the obstacles limit her, she explored new ways to overcome them. She says remaining positive and moving forward when faced with adversity were key to her success.
Now that she’s returned to Kingston for another year at Queen’s, her passion for education has become even stronger. When she completes her Bachelor of Education in the coming years, she plans to teach youth abroad, before returning to Canada as an educator. “I want to combine my two passions of education and international mindedness to inspire new generations to think beyond their personal circumstances and promote a growth mindset,” shares Jacqueline.
This globally-minded Tiger encourages Ridleians to chase their dreams and go after what they’re truly passionate about. ” There’s a difference between extrinsic (external factors that push you) and intrinsic (personal reasons) motivation, and I believe that if you find that intrinsic motivation and are passionate about what you are doing, you are guaranteed to succeed,” urges Jacqueline.
TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing.
Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to firstname.lastname@example.org.