Ariq Kapadia (Class of 2017): Using creative planning to make an impact | Aga Khan Academies

Ariq Kapadia (Class of 2017): Using creative planning to make an impact

My time at the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad has been a wonderful journey for me. I went through series of experiences that has made me what I am today. My friends, teachers and everyone around me had an integral part in shaping my life. I joined the Academy back in 2012 and the residence experience was completely new for me. I was frightened by the fact that now I must live away from my parents at such an early stage. This could typically be a nightmare for some students, but for me it was incredible – reflecting on my time there only makes me want to go back and relive my life at the Academy residences. Getting up for school, all the students racing for the washrooms only to win the chance to take the bath first. Planning out sports schedule in lunch breaks just to play a good soccer game after school. All this has been fun and amazing, and it has taught us students a way of life.

The Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad has been well known for years for their participation and success in soccer. Being an integral part of this team was a joyous and proud experience for me. I was selected for the team back in 2013 – at that time, our team had just started their dominance in the city while we were still preparing ourselves for other challenges at school. It was tough at first to balance sports and academics alongside other projects and activities; however, we slowly got acquainted with it. We used to plan out training times before and after school and commit ourselves to the sport. It helped me improve my punctuality and taught me a lot about time management. Soon after, I had the privilege of leading my U-16 team to the finals on home soil; unfortunately, we ended as runners-up, but the experience I gained while leading had brought some significant change in my behavior. I had grown a sense of responsibility and maturity – I had learned to be a leader. It did bring us trophies back to back for the next few years, but the true realisation for success came in 2016 when we got an opportunity to challenge teams at the national level. It was the first time a squad of eight students were sent for the TAISI tournament to represent the Academy. It was foremost the proudest moment of my life, standing alongside my teammates, ready to take up some of the best teams in India. Successfully, we won the tournament and brought the trophy back home, the first-ever away trophy that the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad has ever won. Achieving such feat has been overwhelming, but the values I have learned in this experience will remain within me and will shape my future.   

Along with sports, I completed various projects at the Academy. As part of our IB [International Baccalaureate] requirement, we had to complete personal projects and Extended Essays in order to pursue our interest in researching about various things through variety of subjects under experienced supervision. Not only did these projects let us gain experience in detailed researching, but it also helped create awareness in specific regions. These projects were bounded with criteria, ranging from personal interest to benefits in society and impact on environment. It made us think about the different aspects and potential effects of our projects, and in turn adopt a broader approach to our research. My project was about city planning and making solar energy the primary source of energy. I aimed to create a small model that gives a better representation of my idea about proper city planning. It was my first time working with wires and solar cells. I had to learn to make a solar plant model and integrate it in the main model. It really was great fun, and I learned the importance of city planning to reduce space wastage and save energy by using alternate renewable sources of energy. My Extended Essay was based on my favorite topic: healthy food. I conducted chemical experiments on food to check the alteration of protein content in food when cooked or uncooked and when hot or cold. My aim was to understand the effect of temperature on food. It went well and it answered some questions I personally had as well. I used dangerous chemicals and chemical equipment throughout my Extended Essay. I improved my personal skills in areas such as communications and built confidence in my ability to work individually. I learned more about society and gained a variety of knowledge on environment preservation.

During my time at the Academy, I have developed skills and values from certain experiences, but it was my participation in Model United Nations (MUN) that had a significant effect on me. I started participating in MUN to enhance my verbal skills and improve my knowledge about events happening around me. Over a period, I swiftly transited to the logistics group. I realized that my ability to manage and plan were beneficial to these events. I was given a chance to assist the Under-Secretary-General of Logistics and soon after I claimed the title for myself. Through this experience, I improved my management skills, developed various approach to different problems and mastered problem-solving skills as a result. I was given the opportunity to lead the Academy’s first ever METROMUN Conference, which allowed students from various schools to participate. The challenge of managing other students was very beneficial to me as it has boosted my confidence in my management skills. Once I had experienced managing MUN, I sought more knowledge and experience in this area – this helped me get into a co-op programme where I am currently working on certain projects and managing project teams to get the best results.

Over the period of time I spent at the Academy, I applied a common skill to all the initiatives in which I took part: strategic planning and creativity. Whether it was sports, projects or MUN, I was fond of innovation and had always been busy with creating something with whatever I had around me. When we plan our strategies for a soccer game, I loved coming up with interesting formations which sometimes didn’t make much sense. I would never give up trying to find a better one, sometimes I would modify the existing one or would come up with something new. Similarly, in MUN, I would plan to change the setting or come up with a different style of conducting the conference. I always looked for alternatives for the existing ideas to make them better or search for a new one to improve efficiency. All these made me realise that engineering is what suits me well and my interest in aerospace and machines brought me to continue my studies in Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Henceforth, with such knowledge, I can pursue my dream of developing my home town and making India prosperous in terms of knowledge and technology and to help His Highness achieve his vision of eliminating poverty.     

All this knowledge and these experiences have helped me get into the University of Waterloo. Studying at my dream university is a direct result of what I have accomplished through hard work, determination and focus. My friends and teachers at the Academy supported me throughout, and all the memories I have from there still teach me various things in life. The experience that I had in those five years at the Academy continues to develop me further and make me more capable of success. In my engagement with activities at the university, I have found that all the skills I learned at the Academy have prepared me to face the upcoming challenges.

When I look back to five years ago, I see a small kid, terrified and trying to surpass the ranks. However, now five years later, even though I am still trying to achieve my goals, I feel ambitious and determined, not scared but instead craving to prove myself. I have had a lot from the Academy and now I feel it is my time to give back to society to make this world a better place to live in.

By Ariq Kapadia