African Leadership University

Bridging the gap between learning and real-world experiences: students at ALU Hubs share their experiences

Imagine living in Rwanda’s city of picturesque hills, exploring Kampala’s buzzing city life and interacting with some of Silicon Valley’s high technology and innovation startups – all this and more is possible at ALU. We believe learning does not end in the classroom — it extends beyond our campuses to real-world experiences where students are challenged to think creatively and develop innovative solutions to critical problems within communities. Some of such experiences are at ALU’s learning hubs spread across Africa and the globe. This past Friday, eight students partaking in ALU hubs in Kampala, Kigali, and Silicon Valley shared their experiences in yet another edition of the ReImagine Education (RIE) webinar series hosted by the  African Leadership University.

Grounded in learning by doing, ALU’s education model enables students to gain valuable practical learning experiences and immerse themselves in the diversity of the communities they find themselves in. Our model is centered on what students and graduates can do, not just what they know.  ALU Hubs, a core of ALU’s learning model, provide an extended ecosystem for students to learn from anywhere with the social benefits of gathering in person and forging new connections with industry experts and community leaders closer to communities. From internships, research opportunities, and conferences to company visits, projects and community service experiences, students are transformed by ALU’s focus on experiential learning.

A place to find yourself and be challenged – ALU Kigali hub students

For Ochongo Johnson Aduma ’22, this was one of the reasons he joined ALU. “I wanted more than just a traditional or prestigious degree; I wanted an education geared towards my interests, skills and experiences”, he says. As part of the inaugural cohort at ALU Kigali Hub, Ochong found his unique path and secured an internship during his first year at ALU. “I would have never imagined negotiating deals with branding companies and handling budgets above my pay grade this early in my ALU education,” he concludes. 

Similarly, Nmesoma Jeff-Nwankwo ’22 is also part of the inaugural cohort at ALU’s Kigali Hub. “In ALU, you decide when and what you want to do. Experiences such as the hub model and self-directed learning have helped me discover myself, my passion, and my potential,” she shared.

A place to own your learning experience and belong – ALU Silicon Valley hub students

Kelly Jessica Hirwa’s ’19 first day as an ALU student was also her first day at work. She vividly remembers how she struggled with balancing the two but got the hang of it with time. Today, she has a full-time job as an operations associate for a social enterprise in Rwanda and a part-time role with a non-profit organization while still studying her Global Challenges degree at ALU Rwanda. Kelly Jessica is part of the first cohort of 25 students at ALU’s Silicon Valley Hub. They have been exposed to global organizations such as Google and Amazon, entrepreneurship and talent development experts, and peers from California.

Also part of ALU’s Silicon Valley Hub experience is Prudence Delight Dube ’21, Olexa Heshima ‘21 and Marie-Danielle Gnagra ’21. Prudence is on a mission of, “creating an ecosystem of creative gladiators in Africa by helping artists develop unique talents and business acumen to brand themselves on an international scale,” which is enabled by ALU’s pillar of missions not majors. By not being confined to a single academic field, she has been able explore her mission across different areas of interest and connect with industry leaders who have helped her take advantage of global opportunities. Olexa relates with Prudence’s experiences as she has had to be proactive and lead her journey at ALU. “When I came to ALU I was expecting the typical university system where you are told what to do. Instead, I soon learnt that I would have to take up the initiative for anything I wanted. I engaged in all the opportunities available to us, and slowly started to understand what I liked the most and what I was passionate about,” she shared. In Marie Danielle’s words, “ALU is the place to tackle challenges, learn, fail and learn again from failing.”

A place to learn by doing and have fun while at it - ALU Kampala Hub students

Joining the conversation from the hiking trails on Namalusu island in Lake Victoria, Peggy Vanessa Ongoma ’22 and Samuel Omondi ’22 have discovered new horizons during their time at ALU’s Kampala Hub. Part of ALU’s learning philosophy hinges on enjoying the learning experience and having fun while doing hard things. Our strategically-located hubs in African cities, the US and Europe, are gateways for ALU students to explore different countries, cultures, contexts and environments, driven by genuine curiosity. Reflecting on her experience at ALU Kampala hub, Peggy says, “Coming to Kampala was scary, but the best decision I have ever made. We didn’t know the place from the first day, forcing us to explore the environment. This strengthened my sense of independence. The hub’s experience has been wholesome and brought out a lot in us.” For Samuel, his time at the Kampala hub has helped him secure an internship in graphics design and discover his mission.

A world of opportunities awaits at ALU

“We provide a model that opens our students to the entire continent and the rest of the world. We have students who have gone to Kampala, Kigali and Silicon Valley, and they are learning from communities, and entrepreneurs, going on hikes and meeting with experts and leaders. ALU continues to create opportunities where our students, no matter where they are from, can learn from these different cities because there is tremendous opportunity in diversity. There is power in learning in communities, with your peers, growing together, and seeing each other’s growth.” commented Veda Sunassee, CEO of the African Leadership University Rwanda and African Leadership College Mauritius. 

An ALU education is a preparation for life. The hubs provide opportunities for students to form new friendships, complete challenging hands-on projects, absorb new cultures and perspectives, manage finances and live independently, and build lifelong relationships with community stakeholders. In this way, ALU students and graduates are parallelly prepared for the real world to be innovative thinkers, intellectual risk-takers and entrepreneurial problem-solvers.

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