Joshua Abuto (Class of 2016): Wanting to make a difference | Aga Khan Academies

Joshua Abuto (Class of 2016): Wanting to make a difference

Joshua Abuto tells an inspiring and promising tale of what drives him to sustain his vision of making a difference in the lives of his fellow citizens in Kenya.  “My dad once told me, “he muses, “you will never be judged by your potential but rather by your actions.” Those words that Joshua’s father uttered to him permanently entrenched themselves in his mind.

And what exactly does Joshua want to accomplish to improve the lives of citizens of his home country after he completes his college studies in the United States?

“After my education, I will return home to foster change and development in Kenya to the best of my ability,” he states emphatically. His focus will be on urban planning of cities, as well as “developing a skills approach to learning when it comes to running local systems.” He believes technology is a vital and integral part of systems organisations and must be used to improve the functioning of government and private organisations to eradicate fraud and mismanagement.

“One day, my fellow citizens will realise that having organised systems can help eliminate the never-ending corruption in our nation and allow it to develop to its true potential,” he states unsparingly.

A 2016 graduate of the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa, Joshua is currently in his second year at the University of Texas at Arlington on a scholarship where he is studying computer science and engineering. He says his interest in his chosen area of study “was induced by my love for problem solving… problem solving in real life situations through technological solutions.”

He credits the Academy for his being able to obtain the generous scholarship under the transfer honors scholarship that has allowed him to get an excellent education at a first-rate university.

“Because of my GPA, and the newly formulated agreement between Aga Khan Academies and the University of Texas at Arlington, I was able to procure my scholarship worth $46,500,” he says, expressing gratitude.

Joshua believes that his route to success thus far has also been due to the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme at the school.

“I feel like the IB gave me a step ahead into university because I was able to get my Academy college credits transferred. However, what really keeps IB a step ahead of all other curriculums is the rigor of the Diploma Programme as a whole and most especially the transdisciplinary skills we obtain such as self-management, organisational skills, and time management. We are also forced to make decisions that are an epitome of any university’s expectation.”

In addition to academics, co-curricular activities are an integral of the Academy. Joshua played basketball and soccer. He also represented the school in the 33rd annual East African Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Nairobi, which, he asserts, prepared him to participate in his freshman year as a vice-chair and chair leading a special committee in the Wisconsin High School MUN Conference, and in his sophomore year where he participated in both the Chicago MUN conference and Texas MUN conferences. He received the Distinguished Delegation award for his participation.

While at the Academy, Joshua was also instrumental in starting the MAD Odeum, a bi-weekly platform showcasing musical talent in senior school students. He carried his interest in music in his freshman year by joining the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Jazz Ensemble. He learned jazz and improved his skills in playing the trumpet.  He hopes to perfect his skills in playing the trumpet and aims to pass his skills to his peers.

Joshua holds dear the many lessons learned at the Academy. He says he particularly benefited from his involvement in the Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) programme at the Academy – he feels CAS reshaped his personality and awakened in him the urge to rewrite his old script and change his old ways of thinking. The Academy’s CAS requisite instills in students the importance of leading balanced and well-rounded lives outside the world of scholarships and academic studies. The CAS includes a wide range of arts activities, sports, expeditions in local and international projects and participation in community and social service activities that the students can choose from.

A firm believer in the power of technology to move communities forward, Joshua went to great lengths while at the Academy to launch a community and service project where he taught local high school graduates computer skills.

Asked about the most important tenets he learnt from his time at the Academy, Joshua is quick to reply. “I feel like one of the biggest values the Academy instilled in me was the art of giving back to the community. This includes respecting concepts such as international mindedness, ethics, pluralism, and civic responsibility. Those creeds will essentially be my mindset along the road of life and when I go back to work on fostering development in Kenya.”

Reminding himself of his father’s mantra, he says, “I believe that we should spend less time talking and just do it. That is the only way to be phenomenal.”