Celebrating our accomplishments: ALC’s inaugural graduation

ALU Graduation 2019

Just four years ago, ALC didn’t exist.  Literally—the staff, students, buildings—nothing.  

Ok, that’s not entirely true. Four years ago, ALU only existed as a really awesome vision. In fact, it was such a novel idea, it captivated the minds and hearts of 20 staff who voluntarily moved to Mauritius, this beautiful island… to breathe life into this idea, this vision. Remember, there was nothing here that even resembled ALU. 

They came and those 20 people created what you now see. They created ALU out of a vision. And shortly after their arrival, the first 80 students landed in Mauritius, from across Africa, captivated by the same vision of growth, development, and leadership.

On June 12, 2019, we celebrated those valiant souls, ALU’s inaugural graduating class. They too saw the vision and they chose to be the trailblazers of this movement. 

We Honor The Trailblazers 

Two weeks ago, ALC, our campus in Mauritius, honored its first cohort of graduates. In this momentous event, we not only honored our graduates, but we also honored ALU and the many people who believed in and supported these dynamic young people.

Delighted, excited, and humbled, we arranged for a three-day graduation program to celebrate this accomplishment for our students, parents, staff and founders. We started our celebration with Founder’s Day to remember our roots and to reflect on the first seedling of an idea that allowed us to reach this point. 

Remembering our roots

We held Founder’s Day on June 10th to allow students and founding staff members a chance to reminisce over the past four years.  Planting a tree is a slow process and it’s not always easy to wait. For many students and staff, it sometimes seemed this accomplishment—our inaugural graduation — may never happen. But it did. The tree grew and has now blossomed. 

On Founder’s Day, we celebrated our success. We did it!

As we launch our first graduating class, the dream is now a reality.

While on June 12, at commencement, our accrediting body, Glasgow Caledonian University  (GSU) bestowed the degree of Business Management and Social Sciences, on Founder’s Day, we conferred certificates of completion to commemorate each student’s achievements at ALC. 

On the second day of our 3-day graduation events, we held Asante Sana, a day of gratitude. Asante Sana literally means ‘thank you’ very much in Swahili. 

Giving Thanks

During Asante Sana students and staff participated in breakout sessions and shared their stories and leadership journeys with guests.

As a final expression of gratitude, the highlight of Asante Sana was a student-led Parents’ Ceremony where graduates got to thank their parents and their families for their support and encouragement, helping them to attain this personal and academic achievement.  As part of the Parents’ Ceremony, students gave parents a plaque and a personalized certificate.

At the heart of Asante Sana, students fully acknowledged that they did not and could not reach this day without support— be it personal, academic, or financial. Our students humbly offered their thanks for the mighty hands, shoulders, and arms that supported and held them, easing their way toward this great accomplishment.

Following these two days of reflection, gratitude, and acknowledgment, on day 3, we held commencement to recognize our graduands and to confer their degrees. 


On June 12 we celebrated our graduating Class of 2015 at the commencement ceremony, culminating in their receipt of GCU degrees of Business Management and Social Sciences. 

Our esteemed Chancellor, Graça Machel, helped to ground our students in not only the significance of their experience but also the urgency of their focus.

With less than 6000 days left until 2035, she stressed to our students to “Be global. Learn from the world all the lessons you want to learn but always have your feet grounded here in Africa.”

If ALU is a tree, our foundation —our roots— are our students grounded on the continent, collaborating to raise it up. Our beloved mentor, Graça Machel, did not miss an opportunity to remind our students of their roots and their responsibility to develop the solutions we so desperately need to address the growing challenges many face on our continent, and in the world. 

During her commencement speech, she also cautioned the graduands to:

“Keep dreaming, keep determined, give the best of yourselves but make sure that you keep true to those ideas you embraced; that time and power don’t change you but make you a better servant of the people.”

And keep dreaming is just what our student speaker echoed in her speech. 

From Many To One 

When Simiso Shabangu, our student speaker, addressed the audience, she reminded us of who we really are.  Whether student or staff, from Kenya to Zimbabwe, she reminded us that we are African. While there are many things that attempt to separate us, there will always be more that unites us.

Through ALU, not only did students learn that they are one as a people but also that they are unified in their mission to bring lasting innovation to Africa, no matter how many failed attempts no matter how many times they must try. She reminded us that we must have a posture of learning that guides and sustains us to keep trying.

As she concluded her remarks, she shared that graduation is “like a glass that falls onto the ground and shatters into numerous pieces. Some pieces fall closer to the impact and some jump to the furthest corners. Sadly, some of these pieces never get to meet again…”

While we share her sentiments, understanding that distance and life circumstances may keep us apart, as we reflect on commencement and the young brilliant souls who now depart from ALC, we see them as the leaves of one tree, blowing to all four corners of the earth. The tree is whole, unbroken, and strong. And for this special tree, each of the leaves carries a seed. Each seed will settle, germinate, and develop into a new glorious tree, carrying the spirit of the old and the hope of something new.

Class of 2015, we commend you! Carry us at ALU in your hearts and go off to do the great things that are destined for you, and only you, to achieve. We will always be here, cheering for you and wishing you only good.

About ALU

ALU provides higher education for a higher purpose. Our students declare missions, not majors.

They develop the real-world skills to take on the world’s most pressing challenges. And they take ownership of their learning from day one through our peer and student-led approach – because ALU believes in the power and agency of young people to start shaping the future right now.

Together with a world-class faculty and staff, our students are igniting a ripple of positive impact across Africa and the world. Join us


Bumbogo, Kigali Innovation City, Next to Azam, Kigali, Rwanda
Phone: +250 784 650 219