From tiny-tot to self-assured leader: the journey has been incredible | Aga Khan Academies

From tiny-tot to self-assured leader: the journey has been incredible

18 May 2023

Sana Popatiya is a student of the Diploma Programme (DP) 2 grade at the Aga Khan Academy (AKA) Hyderabad. Stepping foot into the academy as a six-year-old shy and reserved girl, Sana credits the Academy for shaping her to be the confident woman she is today. Sana believes that the Academy has taught her to be appreciative of her surrounding. It has embedded in her a deep sense of gratitude and ethical leadership skills and ignited a passion to chase her goals.

Sana is currently pursuing visual arts, English and economics for her higher-level Diploma Programme. However, she credits the Academy for nurturing her interest in architecture. Her keen interest in humanities and arts has been key in tending to her passion for arts, which she will be pursuing further at the Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD).

The Academy has given Sana plenty of opportunities to grow, learn, and build her leadership qualities. Sana participated in several theatre plays during her years in the Junior School. She also took up different leadership roles as an admissions and communications intern, deputy secretary general of the Model United Nations (MUN) and a three-time student council member. In these 12 years, Sana has amassed treasured experiences that she believes have moulded her personality.

Sana’s fondest memories at the Academy are associated with the MUN conferences, having participated in 13 MUNs with passion and zeal. She holds every experience close to her heart. In her role as the deputy secretary general of a MUN conference, Sana enjoyed igniting the same passion in the younger delegates to take the legacy forward. She strongly believes that the MUN conferences made her aware of global affairs, taught her to debate logically and helped her build the confidence she manifests today.

The DP levels have been particularly emotional for her as she had her share of highs and lows, more lows than ever, and she commends herself for pulling herself through. Her biggest takeaways from the Academy have been resilience and the ability to fight back. Speaking of the Academy’s contribution to building her emotional strength, Sana said, “I learnt to never give up. The teachers at the Academy helped me realise how easy it is to give up but how important it is to fight back. They taught me that if I ever have to look back, it should be to see how far I have come.”

Having lived within the comfort of the Academy’s red brick walls for 12 years, Sana believes the comfort of the place comes from the people of the Academy. The warmth and sense of belonging she feels within the campus are irreplaceable. Being a residential student, she will deeply miss feeling at home after graduating.

Sana knows she will step outside the Academy as a strong, persevering and self-assured woman. She will carry along in her heart all those people from the Academy who made an impact on her life and growth. Though she will miss the Academy, Sana is ready to enter into the world prepared for new experiences, challenges, and opportunities.

Interviewed by Siddharth Devineni, Diploma Programme One