Onwards and Upwards | Aga Khan Academies

Onwards and Upwards

Congratulations to the Class of 2022! We are so proud of you and cannot wait to see what you do next. As we welcome our new graduating class to our alumni community, we asked four distinct graduates from the Aga Khan Academies in Mombasa and Hyderabad about their journeys and aspirations.

Imra Dawoodani, AKA Hyderabad

Plans to join the University of California, Berkeley for a BSc in electrical engineering and computer science.

What drives you? What is your superpower?

The impact of experiences. Experiences have moulded the most intricate details of the world as I see it. Whether new, old, unexpected, or a planned experience, each circumstance prompts the creation of a new approach within me, defining my ability to adapt to a multitude of situations. Sometimes it outlines my path, in other cases it intrigues me to look for one.

How did the Academy impact you?

It's been a journey. Exposing me to every emotion one could feel, pushing me forward every second because life never stops, and opening routes to a variety of opportunities, the Academy has thoroughly done its part in making me realise that I'm the only one who can take a call for myself.

You’re a new addition to the crayon box; what color would you be and why?

Grey may not seem like the ideal choice, but it depicts my conflicted self. I'm the one trying to figure out light and darkness, ebbs and flows, the balance between emotions and practicality. A simpler derivative to this conclusion would be my utterly annoying indecisiveness. I'd be the one to mix sushi and dal however horrendous it sounds because I just cannot choose what I want to eat today.


Jacintha Thota, AKA Hyderabad

Plans to join the London School of Economics and Political Science for a BSc in politics and economics

What drives you?

Two things that have driven me for a very long time are fascination and long-term goals. I am someone who just loves the idea of learning new things. Whatever I put my mind to is always driven by a sense of love, a sense of wonder, whether that's my academics or my extra curriculars. That fascination keeps me going. When it comes to long-term goals, I do know I want to work in the field of economics when it comes to equity or sustainability and that has shaped my interests and path.

How did the Academy impact you?

The most profound impact has been that it has shown me the world is so much bigger than the bubble that you grew up in. It brought together people from different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. It has shaped my goals to be community oriented. And it has shown me that being a good person is having the right mindset and being tolerant to new ideas and new people.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

COVID-19 lockdowns and the kind of terror it put around the world when I was doing my DP journey meant it was incredibly hard to stay motivated when people were literally dying around you by the thousands. It left me with a sense of cynicism and feeling really demotivated. But actually, coming back to the academy and being around people again reminded me just how much I valued this community. It definitely helped overcome the sense of dread I had started to feel during those 18 months or so.


Khushi Bajaria, AKA Mombasa

Plans to join the University of Miami to study health science (pre-med

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? What was your best mistake?

I faced the challenge of making friends because of the way I felt the need to please my friends continuously. However, as I focused time on my goals, I eventually became part of a diverse group of friend groups. I also first thought it was a mistake that I ignored the warning from my personal project coordinator to not go ahead with my idea as it may impact my grades if I fail in it, however, as I believed in the impact it could make and communicated with the right people, I was able to be successful in it and make a greater impact than expected.

How would you describe success and what do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?

Success is a never-ending mountain with large rocks of joy and glee that help one stay stable, and numerous smaller rocks that keep pushing one to slip backward in their journey of meeting their expectations. The soil of the mountain is then like family and friends that support and help piece part of this journey together to make success what it is. I hope to have completed my bachelor's degree in health sciences and my first year of medical school. I also hope to have expanded my project (teaching Grade 5 to 7 students in how to create and help an eco-friendly microscope). I hope by then, I shall have taught the developmental process in more than fifteen schools in different countries through a team internationally.


Mishal Lalani, AKA Mombasa

Plans to join Middlebury College to major in microbiology and biochemistry and a minor in geography and sociology

What are your plans after graduation?

Firstly, I plan to sleep, have fun and just wind down all the stress that we have been put through for the past two years. I also look forward to and plan to spend time with my family before I leave for university in August, as well as the friends who live around me. Similarly, I hope to do a short internship at the Aga Khan Hospital in Mombasa just to grasp the healthcare environment as that is what I hope to pursue in the future.

What drives you? What is your superpower?

What has particularly always driven me is the community around me. Seeing the community improve when I help out or different community projects help out makes me want to go the extra mile and do more.

How did the Academy impact you?

The Academy made me an all-rounded individual and made me a global citizen. Being the first cohort to go on the exchange programme, I felt very privileged to be at the Academy and to have access to such amazing opportunities that will indeed be spoken about and recognised for the rest of my life. I made the most special memories at the Academy. Most importantly, the Academy taught me that no matter who I am or where I come from, I can make a change if I want to. This was the biggest lesson for me, and I believe it will take me far in life.