Aga Khan Academy Maputo to Introduce Career Counselling | Aga Khan Academies

Aga Khan Academy Maputo to Introduce Career Counselling

14 October 2019

Theresa Urist, Global Director of University Counselling for the Aga Khan Academies, addressed students and parents on 9 October.  Theresa’s presentation focused on introducing a program that the Academy will implement to support students in achieving their university and career goals. 

The long range plan for the Aga Khan Academy Maputo includes multiple components, so that families will be well-equipped to maximize their options. A dedicated University Counsellor will be added to the faculty to assist students in choosing a career and to help them with selecting and applying for university. The University Counsellor will also work with students on application essays and assist faculty members with writing recommendations.

The University Counsellor will be housed in a new University Counselling Office, a dedicated space where students and families can meet with the counsellor, access resources, and ask questions.  Families will also have access to The University Counselling Handbook which is a publication that outlines the entire university search and application process worldwide. The initial handbook with Portuguese translation is due for distribution in February of Grade 10. A new section will be added on Portuguese Universities for the Handbook to be distributed in February of Grade 11 (DP1).

Next year, students will begin using BridgeU, a comprehensive online platform to keep track of their careers exploration and university search and application process. Students will start using this at the start of Grade 10. Bridge U also enables university counsellors to securely send recommendations and transcripts electronically to universities worldwide.

In addition to providing specific details of the program, Theresa stressed the importance of keeping an open mind in approaching the process. She advised that students do not need to determine their future careers too early, and that many of today’s students may work in careers that have yet to be invented, particularly given rapid technological advances. Instead of picking a particular path, she asked students to ask these three questions: What problems do I want to address? What skills do I want to build? What is interesting and meaningful to me?

Finally, she urged families to look beyond selectivity and rankings in considering university choices. Shea advised that many of the published university rankings are based on research funding for graduate studies and may not relate to the quality of undergraduate education.  She stressed that the university application process is more of a match to be made than a game to be won.

In closing, Theresa assured students and families that, through the implementation of this plan, they will receive comprehensive guidance on finding and securing university options that fit their criteria, including price, location and course of study. The session ended with a lively question and answer period with students, followed by a small group meeting with parents.


Theresa will oversee implementation of the plan at AKA Maputo. She is an experienced university counsellor and program director who, for the past 24 years, has assisted students, schools and organisations in understanding and maximising university options. In her role with the Academies, she provides outreach to universities, supports on-site university counsellors in professional development and offers strategic advice to Academies on staffing, information technology, professional development and external publications. Theresa earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in 1993 and her Master’s degree in Education from Harvard University in 1994. She is based in the USA, but travels regularly to each Academy, as well as to multiple universities to provide outreach on behalf of the Academies.