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Journey to the Jude: Augustine Ntah, Security, Cameroon

The Journey to the Jude series highlights the journeys of employees from their homelands to working at St. Jude.

Security officer Augustine Ntah

Security officer Augustine Ntah

By Sasha Steinberg

Security officer Augustine Ntah still remembers what he had for lunch at Kay Kafe on his first day at St. Jude.

“I had turkey legs and pasta, like a macaroni that was made with American cheese. I don’t know who made it, but I really loved that pasta,” he said.

While the food was delicious, the lasting memory serves as a reminder about first impressions and behind-the-scenes contributions. Ntah considers both essential to his role within the St. Jude Security Department.

“Everything that Security does is for the good of St. Jude and everybody here. We keep doing our best to make sure this campus is safe,” he said. “Organization of the hospital—how large and well planned—was one of the things that attracted me most. St. Jude is like a city with patients, families, employees and property. We have a lot going on, so we need to respond at any time we are needed.”

At the front door of hope

Currently, Ntah monitors the gate near the institution’s front entrance, a role he says is about safety, security and smiles.

“When people get to the gate, I tell them, ‘Welcome to St. Jude. You’re at the best place you can be.’ Saying hi and how are you doing, checking on people, encouraging them, it just makes me feel much better,” he said. “Bringing a little joy and making somebody’s day—that’s what matters.”

Ntah said his welcoming personality stems from his heritage, of which he is immensely proud. He thinks of St. Jude as an extension of his homeland, the central African country of Cameroon.

“Cameroon is a blessed nation and beautiful place. It’s like the United States of Africa because it welcomes people from all over the world,” he said. “I see a lot of similarities between Cameroon and St. Jude. St. Jude is open to diverse nations without limits. St. Jude is ready to welcome you and appreciate the person that you are. We don’t discriminate. Our good qualities dominate.”

Cameron fun facts

The culture of collaboration is a defining feature of the St. Jude workforce. Ntah said he appreciates how everyone works together and can contribute ideas and feedback to help the institution move forward.

“You are very important, and your ideas count here. People are encouraged to speak up in a constructive way,” he said. “Our founder Danny Thomas had a vision, and he stood with it. St. Jude keeps growing because that same vision and spirit is in the minds of those who are here now.”

A heart for helping

Prior to joining St. Jude as a full-time employee in 2020, Ntah, like all the institution’s current security officers, worked on a contractor-only basis. During that time, Ntah, who speaks both English and French, applied to work in the translation department at St. Jude. Instead, he became a full-time security officer. It’s a position he loves because he has many opportunities to use his greatest skill—compassion for others.

“Empathy is the force that drives me. I went to engineering school in Cameroon and am an engineer by profession. Engineering is another way to see into the perspective of life,” he said. “It’s about having a foresight of what one wants to be. One of my dreams is to see people meet their goals, and I want to support them however I can. I’m ready to assist any time someone needs me.”

Ntah also is passionate about encouraging fellow employees to respect each other and take ownership of what they do—two of the seven St. Jude values. He said St. Jude as an organization sets a strong example of valuing employees with its 116-flag display in the Danny Thomas Research Center atrium. Each flag represents the homeland of current St. Jude employees.

“When I saw all the flags here, I admired them. It’s an honor and privilege to see the Cameroon flag lifted, and I appreciate St. Jude for doing that. It teaches us that we might come from diverse places, but we are coming together to form one person,” Ntah said. “Everyone is working hard, making this place beautiful.”

How to prepare Koki and ripe plantain or cocoyam

Recipe courtesy of Augustine Ntah

5 liters of Koki beans or black eye peas
1/2 liter of palm oil
Plantain leaves 
Coco leaves or spinach 
Onion, salt and red/yellow pepper 


  1. Place Koki beans into a bucket of water for about 30 minutes, so you can easily remove the scales then grind them using a blender.
  2. Pour blended beans into a pot and start stirring.
  3. Warm palm oil, pour it into the pot of beans and add washed spinach, salt, onion and pepper.
  4. Keep stirring for about 10 minutes to cause a homogenous mixture.
  5. Pour the beans into the plantain leaves in small quantities then place them inside the pot of water on the fire. 
  6. Clean the ripe plantains or cocoyam—wash then place them in the pot of water on the fire with a little bit of salt. This will take 30 minutes to get ready.
  7. In about 40 minutes, the Koki beans will be ready. Remove them from the pot. Untie the plantain leaves and add the cooked plantains/cocoyam to it as a compliment. Enjoy!

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