Siima is an acclaimed media personality, specifically radio. She plays the flute and, before lockdown, performed regularly. She is a voice over artist and one of the hosts of the Not Radio podcast in Uganda. She is a former Head Girl and recipient of the Lydia Rous Award. On leaving College II, Siima accepted a place to study Law at Kings College London.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think back to your years at The Mount?
So many things! My years at The Mount were definitely some of the best in my life. I learned so much and truly grew as a person. I suppose the first thing would be how grateful I am that we were taught that girls can do absolutely anything!
What is your fondest memory of The Mount?
The day I joined The Mount was the day before my 12th birthday. My parents were living in Sierra Leone at the time. My Dad brought me to school, and I was introduced to my Nutcracker, Rebecca. Saying goodbye to my Dad was tough (he was sitting in Reception reading the paper as I was being shown around, I kept walking past him and could feel the tears welling up). When Becca found out it was my birthday the next day, she went around School House with a pillowcase, asking everyone to put in a little gift for me. The next day, my very first breakfast in that MASSIVE Dining hall, EVERYONE started singing Happy Birthday! I was mortified and chuffed to bits at the same time. (Imagine being a First Year and even the scary College I girls are singing for you!) Becca brought me the pillowcase which was stuffed with everything from chocolate, to a small teddy bear, to mouthwash. I was really made to feel at home. I’ve never forgotten that. Oh, and Games In The Dark. I LOVED Bonfire Night. And the trips to Lightwater Valley. Not to mention listening to the Top 40 during Sunday supper before Evening Reading. Good times!
How important an influence has the Quaker ethos been to you?
The Quaker ethos has been extremely important. I worked in the media for almost 10 years, hosting a breakfast show on radio and managing the station. My working hours were hectic, I literally had no social life, and finding moments of stillness was very difficult. Every day, I learned to find time to just sit in silence, to reflect, to just BREATHE. And I know this all comes from everything I learned at The Mount. I didn’t understand the benefits of Meeting at first, but as I got older, I truly learned to appreciate it. And always will.
Do you feel conscious of any influences from your time at The Mount that helped you through your studies and career?
One major thing I learned at The Mount was a sense of responsibility, for oneself and for others. As Head Girl, I had no idea, initially, of what that meant. It was more than my fellow pupils voting for me, more than members of staff putting their faith in me. (I’ll never forget being called to Miss Barbara Windle’s office, and then Mrs. Porteous giving me the phone to call my parents to give them the news.) I learned that I could be a leader. Being conscientious, empathetic, and taking the time to understand the people I work with, I believe, has led to several positions in my career that have propelled me further.
Describe a moment in your career thus far, which you feel was connected to your Mount education.
I can think of many. Throughout my time at The Mount, I had Speech and Drama lessons with the amazing Isobel Waddington. She taught me how to use my voice, how to stand up straight and “PROJECT, DAAARRRLING!!” (I miss her so much). Apart from working on radio, I also MC at events. And I have had to present ideas and concepts in front of top bosses and board members, a daunting task no matter who you are. But being a Mountie has taught me that my voice matters, and that I must use it.
How and how often do you keep in touch with girls from your school cohort?
Thank goodness for Facebook and WhatApp! I am based in Uganda, and most of my girls are in the UK or scattered around the world. We do keep in touch as much as possible. Unfortunately I’ve missed so many weddings and babies, but I am grateful that things have come a long way from when we used to run up the stairs to the IT room to use Paint. And download those little sheep screensavers.
Looking ahead, what are your hopes for your future?
In these times, the future is so uncertain. My hope is that my country Uganda, and the world, can come through this Covid-19 crisis, and be better for it. I hope that I can continue to use my voice for the causes that matter to me the most, and that I can continue to be an example of everything The Mount has to offer for young girls and women of the future.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
I would like to apologise to Miss Sandra Miller for that time my girls (not naming any names) and I hid the hymn books in the ceiling of Main Hall before hymn practice. I know Miss Sally Hebron knew we did it and we were admonished accordingly. I would also like to thank Mrs Lydia Harris for encouraging my writing and helping me when I was editor of Tramlines.