Kamini Menon joined the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad in August 2016 as its Communications Specialist, but her engagement with its educational vision had started long before – as a grade 5 student at the Aga Khan primary school in Kampala, Uganda.
That was where she discovered talents in table tennis and athletics, became a class prefect and initiated cleaning campaigns to keep the buildings litter-free. “It’s interesting that I can draw parallels between that childhood experience and the Academy in Hyderabad – with its focus on holistic learning, opportunities to learn new sports and inculcating in its students an awareness about the environment.”
Kamini grew up primarily in Kenya and Uganda, and completed her undergraduate degree in journalism from an American university in Nairobi. While she was studying, she gained valuable work experience at various places including the PR department of the Kenya Wildlife Service, a South African magazine company, and a recreational space called the Village Market. She then pursued her Master’s in Global Communications from the American University of Paris in France with a focus on video and communications for the development sector. Since then, Kamini has worked in Morocco, Afghanistan and across India for various non-profits and has built her portfolio of skills to include content creation, photography, video production, branding, design, public relations, training and strategic communications.
What drew her to the Academy? “I have always been inspired by the philosophy and implementing agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network, and it brings me great joy to have found a way to realise that career aspiration. Being a part of the Academy resonates with the transformative educational models I experienced as a ‘plus two’ student at Rishi Valley. I see a lot of commonalities in purpose, and I feel at home here because of that. Furthermore, the students here are encouraged to demonstrate values of pluralism, ethics, global citizenship and service, and these values resonate with me as a person.”
Kamini first came to the Academy as a volunteer during the first kite festival in 2016, while on vacation from Kabul where she was working with a technology media start-up. “As I had never worked in a school before, it has been challenging and rewarding to adapt my existing skill-set to a new and dynamic environment. Schools are exciting places to work, as they are spaces of learning and have so much going on at any one point in time.”
While here, she has been instrumental in setting up a weekly global cinema club for residential students and a journalism club that has grown over the last six months to a committed group of about 15 students. Being able to interact with students and contribute to the cultivation of writing and reporting skills amongst them, she says, has been truly satisfying. “My role encompasses a broad and exciting spectrum of responsibility. I work closely with the senior leadership team, as well as faculty and students, and this integral element of collaboration makes the job that much more fulfilling.”