Muriuki Njonjo (Class of 2017): Giving back through leadership and empathy | Aga Khan Academies

Muriuki Njonjo (Class of 2017): Giving back through leadership and empathy

My goal in life has always been to be the very best version of myself that I can be. From the time I joined the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa for my International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme to when I graduated, that was the greatest period of personal growth in my life. The Academy changed my way of thinking, my way of doing things and informed my purpose in life. 

Through a strong emphasis on the intrinsic value of education, the Academy had a lasting impact on me. I remember fondly living in residences which undoubtedly prepared me for living away from home in university. Residential life helped form bonds of friendship that I can confidently say will last a lifetime. The wisdom of dorm parents like Mr. Dudi and Mr. Prashant always helped me get through the rough tides of the IB Diploma Programme, and their words are still very much applicable to my daily life today.

In many ways, the Academy added great intrinsic value to me. However, there was more to that. The Academy demands of all its students a contribution. We lived in a space where we all felt we had to bring something to the table to the benefit of the larger community. It was in this sense of collective responsibility that I found my niche as an active member of the AKA Mombasa community. I was privileged to serve the Student Council as Secretary of the Finance Committee, a role that made me a steward of the student body’s finances. Alongside my committee, I approved the allocation of roughly US$1000 towards various service projects organised by students which had an impact on the local Mombasa community. The importance of giving back and empowering the less fortunate is built into the very fabric of the Academy’s mission and that helped me develop a profound sense of empathy.

I had the opportunity to establish a service club known as the Leo Club with the help of the local Lions Club. We went ahead to raise money for corneal transplants. With the help of my mentors Adnan and Aalia Visram, I co-founded the Academy’s first ever TEDxYouth event with my friend Preyansh Kaushik. Through TEDx we provided an incredible platform for members of our AKA Mombasa community to share their unique perspectives with millions of people across the world. TEDxYouth@AKAMombasa remains one of my proudest achievements at the Academy. Alongside my friend Inaara Savani and the constant guidance and support of Ms Alex Holland, I organised a workshop for Year 9 students on the Syrian refugee crisis. This opportunity eventually led me to Uganda in the Summer of 2016, where I volunteered as an English teacher at the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. I was also honoured to be the Finance Executive of the CanCare club which organises the Academy’s annual blood drive. All these incredible opportunities have taught me valuable skills and have made me a driven person. Of course, all this would not have been possible without the support of my peers and faculty members.

One cannot speak about their time at the Academy without mentioning the rigorous academics geared towards creating critical, analytical and reflective thinkers. It’s through Mr. Vlad’s classes that I discovered my passion for politics because of the power it has to effect change in everyone’s lives. The strength of the curriculum and the way the teachers delivered it definitely prepared me for university workload. This combined with the numerous opportunities to get involved afforded to me ultimately won me a full scholarship to the University of Waterloo in Canada where I am currently majoring in political science and financial economics with Honours.

I still carry the spirit of AKA Mombasa with me. Since joining Waterloo, I have been involved in the organisation of the annual TEDx event, I have delivered a start-up pitch for funding at Velocity, the world’s largest free business incubator, and I have been privileged to join the first incorporated blockchain community management firm in North America as the Head of Public Relations. For now, I will continue to do what the Academy taught me to do best: contribute to my community and live out my potential in my truest self. In future I hope to go back home to Kenya and use my education and skills to help make a difference in people’s lives. Until then, I continue to live in a permanent space of gratitude for the person I am today, which I owe to the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa.