Senior Profile – KaYesu Machayo
Senior Profile: KaYesu Machayo – A Prayerful Visionary
by Sheryl Blunt, AFA Parent and Freelance Writer
Her freshman year of high school KaYesu Machayo had just moved from Georgia to Northern Virginia and was attending a public school, it was a difficult time.
“At that time in my life I needed a strong support network,” said KaYesu, who will graduate from Ad Fontes Academy in June. “I needed Christian mentors, and I really wanted to develop my faith. I wanted to know more about God and be somewhere I could heal and recover mentally and emotionally.”
She missed the Christian school she had attended in Georgia, where she and her friends shared a passion for outreach and helping others. “At my old school, my friends and I would dream and talk about how we would make the world a better place—how we would contribute to the common good,” she said. “I missed that.”
By the end of her freshman year, she was restless. “I just remember crying out to God every day,” she said. “I’d say, ‘God, I don’t know how or what will happen, but I don’t want to go back to this school.”
Late one evening she was researching Christian schools on her laptop when she came across Ad Fontes. “The students looked like they enjoyed being there and enjoyed learning,” she said. Although it was late August and KaYesu was about to begin her Sophomore year, she asked her mother if they could visit the school the next day.
“We walked in the door and up the stairs and [AFA President] Mr. Luckenbaugh welcomed us,” she said. While several upper school grades were already filled to capacity, it turned out that there was still room in both her and her sister’s grades.
“Everything fell into place,” she said. In the parking lot after the visit, “we were thanking God for the favor He’d given us.”
Meeting her class for the first time, KaYesu said she knew she’d made the right decision. “I loved my class right away,” she said. “They were funny and welcoming to me. There was freedom here to be myself.”
KaYesu said among the many highlights of her three years at Ad Fontes were the two summer trips she took with fellow students to Pucallpa, Peru, to work with children and adults with disabilities at the Refuge of Hope.
“I loved Peru!” she said. “The Refuge is so tight-knit and loving. Seeing what joy and peace they live with, and what tremendous faith they have was really exciting. I was awestruck by how thankful they were and how they didn’t let their disabilities limit them.”
One evening everyone came together to sing and worship. “They were singing in Spanish and we were singing in English and I remember just feeling God’s presence so heavily,” she said. “I was awestruck knowing that our God is glorified fully in both languages. It gave me a fresh perspective of God’s love.”
KaYesu said she also enjoyed participating as a lawyer on AFA’s award-winning Mock Trial team her junior year, where she was an attorney for the prosecution and delivered the opening statement.
Another highlight was Mrs. Linda Mathwin’s Literature class. “We read amazing books like Crime and Punishment and The Great Gatsby that prompted us to be introspective on a moral level,” she said. “It was neat seeing people get really excited about what they were reading.”
An event she will always remember is movie night at Mrs. Mathwin’s house. “We watched ‘The Great Gatsby’ while Mrs. Mathwin made us dinner and tea!” said KaYesu. “She took time to invest in us.” KaYesu said she was touched at how her teachers “care about you as a person.”
“They care about your grades, yes, but they care even more about your character and your walk with Christ,” she said. “I think AFA directs you to find your identity in things that are in God and not in things that are fleeting.”
Classes that challenged her think seriously about her Christian faith were particularly valuable she said.
“When I took Mr. [Ray] Blunt’s Apologetics class in 11th grade, it helped me know how important it was to understand my faith. It made us all think—even outside of class—about what our purpose is and why God has called us here,” said KaYesu. “I learned about really being vulnerable with God at a personal level and how to share my faith with others.”
KaYesu is known by her teachers and peers for her godly character, thoughtfulness, and her go-getter attitude.
“As a teacher, I don’t think I’ve ever had a student who encouraged me so often and who never fails to say ‘thank you’ for the slightest thing,” said Mr. Blunt. “She makes us all better people just being around her. Her commitment to hard work and excellence combined with a humble, sweet, and loving spirit makes her a joy for everyone to be around.”
Her name itself sheds light on her character. In her mother’s native language of Runyankole, (predominately spoken in southwestern Uganda), KaYesu means “Belonging to Jesus.”
It was from her mother and maternal grandparents that KaYesu said she inherited her passion for education. Not only was her Ugandan grandfather determined to educate his seven sons; he resolved that his six daughters would be educated as well.
“Growing up my mom told me how her parents decided to educate her rather than marry her off,” said KaYesu. “She told me people would ridicule her father and ask him what good could come of educating his daughters. I’m so grateful that this is my legacy—that he sacrificed so much so that his daughters could pursue their dreams.”
KaYesu wants to help others realize their dreams, and has worked to establish an on-campus Girl Up chapter. The program is part of a world-wide United Nations Foundation campaign that seeks to develop future female leaders and promote educational opportunities for girls. “When girls don’t learn to read or write or think for themselves it can really hinder them from living out the purpose God has given them,” she said.
She is working on an interactive website students can use to learn more about women from non-Western countries whose technological achievements have impacted the world. Last summer she joined 19 other female students at America Online’s intensive 7-week computer science immersion program Girls Who Code, where she developed the prototype.
“It’s called Read and Write and it’s a database and interactive website that stores information about people who really influenced the world in science, math and engineering, but who are not very well known,” she said. “It shows a more diverse approach to history.”
KaYesu has decided to take a “gap year” or “bridge year” following graduation, in part so that she can continue working on her website. While she plans on studying a combination of Engineering and Computer Science at a university the following year, she knows that she will always be involved in helping expand educational opportunities for girls.
“It’s important for me to remember girls living across the world who cannot go to school because their parents don’t think it is a good investment,” she said. “I could have been one of those girls. If I had, I would hope and pray that someone would advocate for me.”