Ryan Herman: Helping students realise their potential | Aga Khan Academies

Ryan Herman: Helping students realise their potential

Before we enter the 2019 2020 academic term, we would like to spotlight a few staff from AKA Mombasa who are going on to pursue new adventures in the upcoming academic year. Here, we take a look at Academy fellow Ryan Herman and his two years at the Academy.

Ryan Herman is from New Hampshire, New England and was an Academy fellow at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa. Ryan was part of the Academy’s Enrichment and Service Learning programme, and later moved on to support the Admissions and Learning Support department and the Academy’s Talent Identification Programme.

Through his time at the Academy, Ryan said he has learnt so much, which he knows will benefit him in the future.

“I have truly loved my experience and not looking forward to leaving at all, although I am very excited to arrive into my next position,” Ryan said. “I have grown a lot in this role, and through my students, I have taken on many learning experiences and moments of growth that I didn’t expect to happen. The Academy has offered me significant professional development in a variety of different aspects. But most importantly, I think my time at the Academy has taught me the importance of mentorship and has helped me value the teacher-student relationship and the type of role-model I like to be. I have experienced and discovered endless learning moments that education centers like our own can offer to its students, staff and community. For this reason, the Academy has solidified my want to stay in education, or at least working in fields that heavily involve youth.”

Ryan said he would not be where he is now if it wasn’t for the support the AKA Mombasa community provided him with during his time here.

“I feel like I came in very unsure of my way forward, mostly knowing that I enjoyed working with students and liked being out of my comfort zone,” Ryan said. “I now feel like I have a much more clear understanding of my way forward in life and what I hope to achieve, and I contribute a lot of that to the mentorship and experiences I’ve had in the Admissions department and through my boss, Kauthar Mohamed. I have come under the wing of many inspirational and thoughtful leaders, such as Kauthar, Paul Davis, Jane Okello, Minal Shah, Ruki Husain, Nuala Alibhai, Alice Ndungu, Bhagirathy Jhingran, Clare McLaughlin, etc., who have driven me crazy with aspirations for myself and my future. I feel extremely fortunate for the many circumstances that had fallen into place, somewhat coincidentally, that made my two years very unique. The most rewarding aspect of my time here was being given the support and trust to embark in my own direction and being able to make those simple initial steps concrete themselves into something tangible and beneficial.”

During his two years, Ryan has contributed to various parts of the school. Ryan was involved with the Exchange Programme’s pilot year between AKA Mombasa and AKA Hyderabad, supported the annual TEDxYouth event and strengthened the Talent Identification Programme at the Academy.

“Our network puts in immense amount of effort to empower different, disadvantaged communities around the world through education, and the Talent Identification Programme is a very tangible approach to that goal,” Ryan said. “Starting from a singular programme in January of 2018 that welcomed in year 6 students, the programme has grown to be able to tackle so much more. We now run six programmes throughout the course of a year, handle four rounds of orientations annually,  have devised an integration program for English Language Learners, provide weekly tuition for those with greater academic gaps, documented and analyzed academic trajectories and histories for four of the seven cohorts, and now support the processes of assessment, identification and communication with families.”

Ryan’s passion for working with talented students from varying backgrounds will be seen through his new position at Imagine Scholar.

“I will be working for Imagine Scholar, a non-profit in South Africa focused on providing opportunities in education for rural students,” Ryan said. “We, as the Academy, are partners with Imagine Scholar through our role in the HALI (High Achieving, Low Income) Access Network. I will be stepping in as a programme manager, focusing particularly on a programme for talented high school students.”

Kauthar Mbwana (Mohamed), the Student Leadership and Service Learning Coordinator and Senior School Enrichment Coordinator, has worked with Ryan since he came to the Academy. Kauthar said Ryan’s work ethic was very admirable and she is happy to see the person he has become during his time at the Academy.

“The first day I met Ryan and he cracked a joke I knew that we would be the best of coworkers,” Kauthar said. “Ryan is hardworking and a perfectionist when it comes to work. He would take up any task given to him and work to his level best. Ryan helped bring to life the enrichment portal that allows students to sign-up online among many other enrichment tasks. He has also taken his year 7 disability Service Learning programme to different heights, from the activities he does, to the learning experiences that occur. His thirst to do better and personal growth didn’t stop only at his main roles; he took up on more just so that he can maximise his two years at the Academy. Ryan’s charming personality shall be missed dearly; not just his passion and commitment to work, but his smile that lights up anyone’s day. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”