#ALAGivesBack – From an Alumni Perspective

ALA alumni, Nelisile Mzolo shares her views as well as that of fellow alums regarding #ALAGivesBack. Nelisile is currently enrolled  at United States International University in Kenya. She, along with a few other alums, have recently spent time back on campus interning at various departments within the Academy – doing their part in developing the next generation of African leaders.

At the end of last year, in the spirit of gratitude and family, a group of ALA alumni came together and founded #ALAGivesBack. Indeed, the ALA community will always feel like a second family for us all, because of the unique experience we were all fortunate to have shared. To date, 147 alumni have exceeded the targeted amount of $10,000 and have pledged an impressive $18,000 which is 65% of the cost of sending one student to ALA. The pledges from my fellow alumni are impressive but, what about the rest of the alums who may not be able to give back in monetary means to this institution which has opened so many doors for us? The answer is simple…

The truth is, there are so many ways for us to give back to the Academy that does not involve giving money we may not have. Sitting down with two fellow alums, Kabelo Motsoeneng ’13 and Isaac van Heerden ‘12, who much like myself, are currently giving back to ALA in the form of service (internships), we discussed the many ways in which we could take this great initiative even further.

Firstly, we started with our reasons for being back. Whether you are a gap year student like Isaac and Kabelo or home from school for the holidays like me, there is nothing better than the sense of community associated with being back on the ALA campus. The ALA vision becomes so much clearer when you are back on the campus and are automatically filled with a sense of responsibility to serve this great institution. After all, it is not until you leave the ALA campus that you begin to realize how relevant the teachings are to the real world and thus appreciate your time on the campus even more.

Secondly, we explored the many ways in which alums can give back. To quote Kabelo, who took us back to a first year Seminal Reading, The Cathedral, “to build the cathedral, all generations have to contribute” and I could not have put it better myself. However many years ago it may  have been for each of us, we all started on the same journey and being away from the campus, off at prestigious universities outside of the continent, it can be easy to lose sight of the very first pledge we made to ourselves when we applied: to become change-makers in Africa. We need to be deliberate in the journey we started – part of that involves paying homage to the institution which gave us the platform to achieve what we have achieved to date.

While I do acknowledge that we cannot all return to the campus and give our time, there are so many other things that we can do from wherever in the world we may be. For instance, we can offer services in assisting our admissions department in our home countries, mentor current students through the exhausting college application process, host gatherings and support our fellow countrymen in their transition to ALA. All it takes is a little proactivity!

In conclusion, we need to remind ourselves that we have a role to play and that is bigger than ourselves, it may be frightening at times but you have to go at it. As we start our journeys into the New Year and fulfill our resolutions, I would encourage ALA alums to remember that we come from a great institution – let us be forever humble towards it and its vision be reflected in all that we do.