This month of February 2021 holds a very special place in the ALU community. It is a month of love, but also a month that has witnessed its second ALU graduation. On the 11th of February 2021, 167 students from 27 countries, forming part of the inaugural class of ALU Rwanda, graduated. In spite of a raging pandemic and grave uncertainty about the future, the class of 2017 gloriously celebrated their incredible journey of courage, community, and culture. With an unwavering spirit of trailblazing, they embrace the different adventures that each of them is about to embark on.
The Story of the class of 2017
The story of the class of 2017 is one of resilience and believing in something much greater than themselves. From different parts of the continent, they walked into the second floor of Kigali Heights, with absolutely no clue of what the future held and a bag full of hope and courage. The students made great sacrifices to come to ALU Rwanda. Many of them left their former schools and jobs to join ALU, while others had to convince their families to allow them to travel to Rwanda, far away from home, to a school that barely anyone knew. Each student has a unique story that ultimately reveals the collective pioneering spirit of this class. And, this same spirit of trailblazing, has encouraged them to co-create the ALU culture, community, and personality that we all experience today. Their journey has almost come full circle and it is exciting that they also got to witness the opening of their new home in Kigali Innovation City.
The Graduation Theme – #DareToBlazeTheTrail
For this unique and momentous ceremony, the founding class of ALU Rwanda chose the theme “Dare To Blaze The Trail”. The first-ever undergraduate ALU Rwanda graduation was a celebration of the journey of our inaugural class as well as the Founding staff and faculty, who bravely blazed the trail together to reach this moment. It took a sense of courage and adventure to be the first and their every milestone has co-created the wonderful culture and community. This class created a path for their peers to follow.
Graduation day was marked with joy as parents, graduands, friends, relatives, staff, and faculty gathered together online to celebrate this glorious milestone. The ceremony was graced by ALU CEO and Founder, Fred Swaniker, as well as ALU provost Dr. Nhlanhla Thwala, and Dean Dr. Gaidi Faraj.
Our keynote address was given by ALU Rwanda chairman of the board, Mr. Faustin Mbundu, who is also leading the MFK Group – a holding company with a diversified portfolio of investments. He is also the chairperson of the Kigali International Arbitration Center, director at the East African Bank, and also sits on the One Acre Fund Rwanda advisory committee. In his inspiring address, he drew parallels between his journey with entrepreneurship in Rwanda and challenges that came with this and the journey of our graduating students who, just like him, were brave enough to become the founding class of ALU Rwanda. He advised graduates to maintain their momentum and continue being pioneers.
The Minister of Education, Honorable Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, gave the Guest of Honor speech and commended the graduating class for having the courage to be founders and the tenacity to help build the culture and community of the ALU Rwanda campus.
Delivering a speech on behalf of the students was BA (Hons) Global Challenges graduating student, Musa Sheriff. Sheriff is a Pan-African solutionist, public policy enthusiast, founder of Kupambana Afrika, and co-founder of Afrique Accountability. In his speech, he conveyed his pride in the achievements of his classmates and left them with some words of wisdom.
“Dare to blaze the trail means different things to different people. For us as the graduating class, it means first and foremost, being selfless – having the inner recognition that the education we have acquired at the African Leadership University is not for the self, but rather for the continent. Secondly, it means being dissatisfied with the Africa we have and creating the Africa we want – an Africa of great prosperity, of great potential, and an Africa that is respected by other regions of the world. Lastly, dare to blaze the trail means being responsible and visionary leaders.” – Musa Sheriff.
Among the graduating students were also the conservation scholars who reflected on their journey at ALU and shared their vision for the future. One of these students is Wassa Cisse, an Ivorian conservation scholar and BA (Hons) Global Challenges graduate.
“We needed to know that we are not alone in having this dream and that it was okay to want more. I am grateful for the connections that will last a lifetime, friendships that will remind us of who we are and fuel our dreams even outside of the walls of ALU. From now on, we will be judged by our vision and the value that we carry that will impact the generations after us. As the first-ever graduating class, let’s continue to blaze the trail and be that torching light.”
Pioneering into the future
The ALU community stands in resounding agreement with the path that our graduating class is about to embark on – one of trailblazing and taking bold decisions for the betterment of the continent. They have shown, over the years, a sense of resilience and purpose and a tendency to be daring and to do hard things.
If you would like to learn more about the graduating class, hire them, or work on a project with them you can find their portfolios here.
Congratulations to the inaugural class of ALU Rwanda! We are beaming with pride and applaud your courage to be changemakers. You can find the full graduation ceremony here and the Asante Sana ceremony of gratitude here.