Meet ALA's Class of 2018: Soumaya Bennani (Morocco)

Welcome to our series of introductions to African Leadership Academy’s 2018 cohort – and meet Soumaya Bennani from Morocco…

Soumaya has her sights set astronomically high – literally: she is aiming to be the first North African on Mars. This will be no mean feat for the young girl who already has a few major scientific firsts to her name. She is the only African to have been accepted into the CERN (European organization for Nuclear science) S’Cool Lab summer camp in Geneva, and the youngest member of, and translator for, the Moroccan Scientific Community.

“If physics is the poetry of nature and math its language, then astronomy is the most beautiful poem ever written,” is how this former President of her school’s physics club describes her passion. Drawn to the night sky, she joined the Moroccan Astrography and Astronomy Association, which hosts various public night observations in the countryside, and where Soumaya is responsible for running workshops on the mechanism of telescopes, visible celestial objects. “My task is mainly to explain to Moroccans from all ages how the universe works,” she explains proudly.

Soumaya’s passion for Astrophysics is equalled only by her strong belief in women’s empowerment and the need for equal education for girls. She is actively involved in promoting these causes, by giving talks at public middle schools. There she shares sharing her experience of wining the Race2space scholarship, which included training at NASA’s Space and Rocket Center “that have fanned the flame inside me and how it really changed my life”.

Her leadership skills were enhanced by the various roles she held as President of her school’s Student Government, and founder of Addictest Physics Club. She also served as Captain of the Bright-tech team that represented Morocco in the 2017 Technovation challenge 2017, was a finalist in the 2017 Technical Maths Olympiad and was recognised as Best delegate in the Tesla MUN 2017.

An alumnus of Microsoft’s Digigirlz program, member of #LetGirlsLearn, Soumaya’s innate curiosity is evident in the various other activities she has pursued: she is a competitive horse rider and self-taught pianist and video editor, as well as serving as an active member of Glimmer of Hope, a charity association.

Soumaya is keen to bring her exploratory nature to ALA, and looks forward to having her curiosity met and matched in sharing interdisciplinary educational programs with like-minded, curious individuals from all over the continent.