On 19 May 2018, the Aga Khan Academy
Mombasa commemorated its 12th graduation, celebrating
76 graduating students who have been offered over USD 6 million
(600,000,000 KES) in scholarships and financial aid to some of
the world’s top universities, including Yale University, Brown
University, University College of London (UCL), University of
Melbourne, University of Toronto and McGill University.
The mission of the Aga Khan Academy
Mombasa is to create ethical home-grown leaders for the
developing world and the African continent, who will
work towards the goal of sustainable development.
What makes the Academy unique is that
it identifies and nurtures exceptional young people from
a wide range of national, religious, ethnic and
socio-economic backgrounds to create a learning
community that is exceptionally diverse, open-minded,
culturally rooted and driven to make an impact on their
communities and the world.
The Academy provides access to
world-class primary and secondary education, and in
doing so, prepares students for the best possible
opportunities in tertiary education and lifelong
A great school, His Highness the Aga
Khan said, “will educate its students not merely to
be personally successful but also to use their gifts
to build their communities and enhance the common
good to levels beyond our dreams.”
The guest speaker at the graduation
ceremony was Dr Mahmoud Eboo, the Resident
Representative of His Highness the Aga Khan and the Aga
Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Canada.
Stephen Githwaka receiving the Award of Excellence from the
Guest of Honour, Dr. Mahmoud Eboo.
Dr Eboo contemplated on the fact that
this year marks 60 years of His Highness the Aga Khan being the
religious leader of the Ismaili Jamaat– his Diamond Jubilee, 30
years since the Academies were envisioned and 15 years of the
existence of the Academy.
The event was emotional for the
graduates and their families, friends and teachers; all looking
back at the journey that led them to where they are today.
For some students, this experience at
the Academy had at one time been an unattainable dream.
Paul Davis, the Dean of Admissions,
has passionately led the Academy’s Talent Identification
Programme for the past 10 years.
This programme reaches out to
academically able students with leadership potential within
Kenyan government schools in both socio-economically and
educationally marginalised areas of Kenya and provides them with
financial aid to attend the Academy.
By enabling these talented students to
receive a high-quality education that allows them to access the
world’s best universities, this programme dramatically changes
their opportunities and their long-term ability to help their
families and communities.
The 2018 graduating cohort consists of
seven students within this programme.
Among these students is William Baya.
Before joining the Academy in 2011, his motto was “Front ever,
This self-drive within William has
guided him through his six years at the Academy and allowed him
to receive a full scholarship to attend Washington and Lee
University in the United States. William comes from Ganze
subcounty in Kilifi County.
Davis met William when the Kilifi
County Governor reported widespread hunger in the area.
“I’m a first-generation student to
attend university, making this a very huge step not just for me
but my family too,” says William.
He will be pursuing a degree in
Physics and Engineering and has “become deeply ingrained with
the school’s mission, to create home-grown leaders”.
William believes that the plethora of
opportunities he will receive in university will equip him with
the necessary skills to cope with issues not just in his
community in Kilifi, but also the global community at large.
Along with William is Prudence Hainga,
hailing from Kisumu.
Prudence is a MasterCard Foundation
Scholar and will be attending the University of Edinburgh fully
funded to study Political Science.
“I want to realise my childhood dream
of fighting injustice and corruption in Kenya...learning how
political systems function and what others have done to ensure
sustainable development as well as spread out opportunities for
their citizens...I am motivated to use my knowledge as a weapon
against discrimination and inequality and work for a better
Kenya – a Kenya that feels like home to all,” says Prudence.
These young men and women started off
with nothing more than their talents and big ambitions when they
first joined the Academy.
Through their journey here, they have
been challenged, nurtured, and have grown exponentially to
exemplify the leadership potential that was identified in them
by the Admissions team.
Samantha Caras, the Academy’s
University Counsellor, put it aptly when asked what university
representatives find most interesting about students at the
Academy: “University representatives are usually impressed by
the way our students present themselves and their dedication to
giving back to their home countries.
“Rather than focusing on themselves
and what they are going to get out of a university or a degree,
our students are often asking about opportunities they will have
to give back and to use their degree to create a better future.”
In recognition of the exceptional
talent and leadership potential in the students from the
Academy, some of the other notable scholarships that have been
awarded to the Class of 2018 include: Akshi Khimji (University
of Alberta Global Citizenship Scholarship for IB Students),
David Kairu (International Leader of Tomorrow Scholarship at
University of British Columbia) and Matthew Wabwire (Drexel
These are but some examples that
provide a testament to the transformation of the Academy’s
vision into reality: creating ethical, home-grown leaders that
are both culturally rooted and internationally minded perfectly
placed to change the world we live in.