With ALA’s diploma program in full swing on our campus in Johannesburg, similarly, this past quarter saw our alumni also continue their academic careers abroad as colleges and universities kicked off their school terms. It is during periods like the beginning of a school term or year when ALA’s University Support department’s work proves most critical.
Our University Support team provides a range of services to university students, including staff- and peer-led psychosocial support (virtual and in-person). The team facilitates events on multiple campuses, leveraging existing students’ connections to build a support system around new students, several of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Campus visits allow for touchpoints throughout the year and give students the opportunity to connect with the team and receive counseling where relevant. The team has seen hundreds of students successfully graduate from college since 2014 driven by the belief that transition assistance and ongoing support can facilitate students’ success at university.
The team is headed by Sheila Agiti who, along with her team, constantly explores the question of what it takes for students to succeed and thrive in all aspects of their university lives. “The most fulfilling aspect of the journey to support students through university is the partnership we forge with them. We never position ourselves as the answers to all their queries but instead as allies in their individual and collective journeys.
Self-advocacy is a constant subject in our one-on-one conversations with students because we believe it is essential to students getting the needed resources to thrive in school. The early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted its importance because most universities were trying to figure out what the pandemic would mean for the way they operate- thus our students had to step up and voice their needs- from being allowed to stay on campus over the summer to additional office hours to factor in time zone constraints. Our work is rewarding given the uniqueness of each student and their university goals.”
Meanwhile, here are some of our alumni thriving at some of the best universities in the United States and UK:
Former Student Body President at Michigan State University (MSU), Abii-Tah Bih ‘14 (Cameroon) started her Master’s degree in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge this fall. Upon graduating from Abii-Tah was awarded the school’s 2021 Richard Lee Featherstone Endowed Prize by MSU. This prize was awarded to her for exhibiting an open, curious, creative approach to education and ideas, and intellectual ingenuity and demonstrating exceptional character and leadership in furthering in enriching the lives of others.
Esther Soma ‘10 began her pursuit of a Master’s degree in Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Governance at the University of Oxford as a Chevening Scholar. Having previously graduated from Yale University with a degree in Global Affairs, her experiences as part of UN Women’s peacebuilding advocacy team and her continued yearning to further educate herself in this area will see her bring about her envision prosperity in her native South Sudan.
Kudzai Mbinda ‘16 (Zimbabwe) is making waves at the University of Rochester (UR) as a star track athlete while completing a degree in chemical engineering. During the university’s 2019-20 indoor track & field season, Kudzai broke Rochester’s school record for the 60-meter dash, setting a new UR 60 meter record during his sophomore campaign. He was recently honored during the school’s 2021-22 Lysle “Spike” Awards for his stellar achievement in the Men’s Track and Field Category. Away from the track, Kudzai can be found exploring his interests in political sciences and contributing to his team’s Chem-E car competition entry, a project that requires them to build a car and all of its aspects including the design, production, power source and stopping mechanism. Kudzai was also recently named a Rhodes Scholar, following in fellow alumni Beauclaire Mbanya ‘14.
Our ALA graduates attend support gatherings organized by University Support in their respective universities and colleges.
Access to our incredible network of professionals who are committed to supporting our alumni throughout their lifetime starts with a young leader applying to our diploma program. Our application deadline is approaching and you can use the following button to nominate a promising young student: