Anoushkha Rajan (2007): Prepared for a Future of Excellence | Aga Khan Academies

Anoushkha Rajan (2007): Prepared for a Future of Excellence

Pursuing higher education halfway across the world from everything you’ve known can be daunting for anyone, but for graduates of the Aga Khan Academies (AKA), the hurdles often become less challenging due to the Academy experience. Anoushka Rajan graduated from AKA, Mombasa in 2007 and since then has been pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. For her, the time she spent at the Academy played an immensely important role in her subsequent successes:

“At the Academy, we were moulded every day into more than merely just students—we became active, curious, dedicated and critical learners; we learnt to appreciate diversity in every situation, critically examine the information we received and that which we disseminated. We learnt that there was more to education than just ‘winning’ and that that dedication, diligence and drive were keys to success. We learnt the importance of balance: the balance between giving and receiving, the balance between [a] textbook education and real life experiences. It is these lessons and this educational ethic, that I got from my time at the Academy, that prepared me for my time at UBC.”

Moving to a new country doesn’t come without its difficulties though, and often culture shock can overwhelm students during the course of their studies:

“Moving to any new environment is always challenging—the biggest challenge for me was being immersed in such a big place, with not one but hundreds of cultures around me. It was overwhelming at first, and I wasn’t quite sure where I fit in or what my place was on this huge campus. I met many people so similar to me yet so different, and it took me some time to get adjusted to the pace and way of life here. But once I started carving out my own niche, I felt settled, relaxed and ready to enjoy the wonderful offerings of university.”

Being a student of the AKA allows for a well-rounded education and development of skills outside of the classroom and also opens opportunities for graduates all over the world. Because of this, many of its current students and alumni feel that the Aga Khan Academies are the standard for education in the developing world:

“I would say an education at AKA is the best you can get. With an emphasis on holistic development of every student, I feel that students who come out of the AKA come out as more than just students with a diploma—they graduate as students academically prepared for the rigour of university education and as individuals ready to find their footing in the outside world, ready to take on as much or as little as they wish to, to contribute to, and become an integral part of, the communities and societies around them.”

Anoushka is at the end of her post-secondary education at UBC, but her pursuit of success will not end there. Because of the lessons learned at her time at AKA, Mombasa she plans on exploring a multitude of opportunities and hopes to eventually find her way back to Africa:

“I have gained experience in a variety of different areas—from working to create awareness about Africa and to develop an African Studies Major Program at UBC to Patent Engineering, from working to enhance gender equality in Science, Engineering and Technology fields to exploring the field of Biomedical Engineering. I feel like the opportunities ahead of me are endless—I may settle for one career or dabble in multiple, I don’t know yet. The one thing I do know is that Kenya and Africa are very, very close to my heart, and my hope is that one day, I can do something to contribute to the home that has given me so much.”

With a bright future ahead of her and a solid educational and experiential foundation, Anoushka doesn’t feel that there are limits to what she can achieve, and has this to say to future AKA graduates:

“Make the most of [your] time at AKA; [it] is a beautiful place with so much to give. Take advantage of all the opportunities big and small, because you never know which experience will become your fondest memory, or which experience will be the one that gets you that position, role or job that you really want at university; beyond that, study hard but take some time to get involved, relax and have fun!”

By Uzma Rajan

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