Established in 2017, the Aga Khan Academy (AKA) Alumni Network initially began with the intention of keeping alumni connected with each other after graduating from their respective Academy. Now, with over 1200 alumni from across the Academies, the AKA Alumni Network not only brings alumni together, but it is continuously creating various professional and mentorship programmes for alumni and current students to help them become leaders within their own communities and beyond.
Two of the most noteworthy programmes set up by the AKA Alumni Network include the Alumni Speaker Series Secrets to Success and the Alumni Networking Programme, both being virtual and easily accessible to alumni and students around the world.
Through Secrets to Success, current Academies students and alumni engage with professionals and leaders in different sectors to learn more about their profession and what they’re involved in. “In our Alumni Speaker Series Secrets to Success, alumni professionals had insightful discussions with other alumni and current Academies students on recruitment hacks, tips, tricks and they provided information on careers in technology, finance and consulting,” said Moiz Rajwani, Class of 2018 from AKA Hyderabad, who leads the Alumni Networking Programme and the Alumni Speaker Series Secrets to Success. “We had senior alumni professionals currently working at Twitter, Microsoft, Accenture, Amazon, Bloomberg, McKinsey & Company, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Schroders as guest speakers.”
The Alumni Networking Programme connects alumni pursuing their undergraduate degrees with alumni professionals in their own areas of interest and provides them with opportunities to access internships, professional advice and more.
“The Alumni Networking Programme is a guiding framework to facilitate the transfer of key competencies of success between mentors – older AKA alumni – and mentees – AKA alumni currently in university or college,” continued Moiz Rajwani. “Through a one-on-one approach, mentees are able to acquire the help and knowledge they need from those who have been in their shoes and experienced what they are going through.”
In addition, the AKA Alumni Network stays connected with its alumni through its social media platforms where they feature alumni on what they have been up to since graduating from their respective Academy.
“Through the tremendous work of our volunteers, we have built a strong social media platform for our alumni to remain connected,” said Amreen Valli, Class of 2015 from AKA Mombasa, and the social media and alumni engagement lead. “We are focused on ensuring that alumni from both AKA Hyderabad and AKA Mombasa come together to build new connections and share knowledge and experiences with each other. We are especially looking forward to welcoming the first graduates from AKA Maputo into our network very soon. Our social media channels have also been integral in collecting feedback from our alumni on their time at the Academies. It is my hope that we can continue to work hand-in-hand with the schools to instill best practices and improve the experience of future students.”
Recently, the AKA Alumni Network began connecting alumni to their alma mater and creating mentorship programmes for the school’s current graduating cohort. The Network believes these mentorship programmes will provide the Diploma Programme (DP2) students with some additional guidance and support, which they can carry with them after graduating.
“Through our DP2 Mentorship Programme, students are connected to mentors at the start of their DP2 year to discuss life after graduating in relation to the university they’re interested in attending, the city or country they might be moving to, or the courses they would like to pursue,” said Nikita Madhani, Class of 2015 from AKA Hyderabad, and the lead for the DP2 Mentorship Programme. “We also have a DP2 Alumni Panel Series, which brings together a panel of alumni to discuss various areas of undergraduate courses and their own experiences. This is aimed at giving students an introduction into what it may be like to take a particular subject as a major or minor area of interest.”
Iliyan Bhimani, Class of 2021 from AKA Hyderabad, got such an introduction when he participated in the DP2 Alumni Panel Series. Nervous about going to university, Iliyan said he felt reassured and more confident after interacting with the alumni.
“Before I began DP2, I was worried and tense because there was no one close to my family who could guide me through this very important phase and process,” Iliyan said. “I have not only learnt about the thought process of choosing the right university to go to, but I've learnt a lot about the non-academic matters as well. The alumni panelists are very friendly, helpful and open-minded. They have the willingness to admit the mistakes and bad decisions they've made for us to gain knowledge about it and not make the same mistakes as they did.”
"The impact that we are trying to create as part of the alumni initiatives go far beyond what we can measure,” said Imtiyaz Hariyani, Class of 2014 from AKA Hyderabad, who oversees strategy and administration for the AKA Alumni Network and was tasked with creating the Alumni Committee. “The words of alumni mentors or the advice of a fellow alum who might live in the same city can have a great impact on a recent graduate of the Academies who is transitioning into life after the Academies. We hope to inculcate this culture of harnessing our own strengths as a community, whose foundation is built on the notion of giving back based on the knowledge and skills that one possesses."
Tara Menon, Alumni Relations Coordinator for the Aga Khan Academies, said she can see how the alumni have carried the values instilled by the Academies with them years after they have graduated from their respective Academy.
“As we continue to build on the incredible foundation that has been laid for the AKA Alumni Network, I hope to see more alumni finding ways to engage with the Academies, their fellow alumni and current students,” Tara said. “The shared experience of an Academies education provides each graduate with the ability to connect, enhance, encourage and support one another. Over the next few years, I would like to see our AKA Alumni Network harnessing the opportunities we have provided for Academies alumni to help each other grow both personally and professionally.”
For more information on the AKA Alumni Network and to connect with the Alumni Committee, please visit the AKA Alumni Network’s Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/akaalumni/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AKAAlumni) pages.