Class of 2017 Reflects on Exceptional Growth through ALA Theses

In the run-up to our 10th graduation ceremonies, each member of our graduating class presented their thesis to the community. In what has become an annual tradition, the ALA Thesis is a structured presentation that each graduating student presents, challenging them to use a metaphor to describe their journey of growth at ALA.

Through these introspective narratives, students are challenged to reflect on the various milestones in their leadership journeys and to find a common thread that often tells a story of growth through desirable difficulty. This culminating experience

Koffi-Emmanuel Sadzi (Togo) presents his thesis

Among many exceptional thesis presentations, Tanatsei Gambura (Zimbabwe) titled her presentation: “Finding the Second State of Matter”. With her undying passion for the arts and deep interest in telling African stories, Tanatsei reflected on her journey to ALA and her experiences at ALA as being an opportunity for her to deepen her roots and connect to a mission that truly represented her and a dream to which she was eager to contribute. In her words, “My biggest learnings from ALA include communicating for impact to both large and small audiences; writing for leadership with grace and thoughtfulness; and resourcefulness and learning to make the most of relationships.”

Jesse Mwangi (Kenya) , who along with fellow graduate, Wuntia Gomda (Ghana) Jesse recently won The Zayed Sustainability Prize, for their work to build a recyclable water system called The Living Machine, presented his thesis on the theme of “Immortality”. On reflection, Jesse stated that he leaves ALA having cultivated the ability to think critically and analyse situations with depth, noting that he has become versatile in evaluating scenarios, and has learned how to do and not simply speak. 

First year students and faculty listen to a thesis presentation

Marie-Paule Wauters (DR Congo) presented her thesis on the title “How I learned to walk again”, showcasing the unique experience of students from non-Anglophone backgrounds who navigate ALA with unique challenges. In her reflection, Marie-Paule likened her transition from being an exceptional French-speaking student in the DR Congo to learning in an English-speaking environment at ALA to an auto accident that robbed her of her primary means of mobility, her legs. She reflected on her growth journey of learning the English language for the first time and the support which she received through the English for Excellence program and her peers as responsible for the restoration of her confidence. For Marie-Paule, her ALA journey taught here resilience, growth through struggles and the ability to learn in a multi-lingual environment.

David Tago (Kenya) presented his thesis on the title – “Weaving the Strings”, telling a story, through an experiential exercise, of learning to balance multiple interests and priorities in the pursuit of excellence. With a core interest in music, a desire for academic achievement and a heart for leadership, David’s ALA journey, which included serving as Director of ALApella (the school choir) and Chairman of the Student Government, taught him to seek to utilize as many aspects of his personality as possible in pursuing effectiveness.

As the Class of 2017 continues to pursue their leadership journeys at various institutions across the world, the search is on for another exceptional cohort of young leaders to join our Class of 2020. Do you know of any outstanding young change-maker in your community? Nominate them today at