Akilah Institute for Women held a graduation ceremony of over 50 students from the second class that received diplomas in the field of Hospitality Management in Kigali on December 6, 2013.
Located in Kigali, Rwanda, the Akilah Institute for Women is a college for young women offering three-year diploma programs in Entrepreneurship, Hospitality Management, and Information Systems.
In her speech at the occassion, the former US Ambassador to Austria and the Eleanor Roosevelt Lecture in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Swanee Hunt urged students to develop long term achievements that bring positive impact to the local society and grab the opportunities Rwanda presents to the women in the country.
“You have a big advantage to be in Rwanda where women are empowered and respected. I have been in 60 countries and no country is as advanced as Rwanda in encouraging women,” Hunt told the students.
“Use your skills to contribute to the country’s development. We incredibly chose you out of 1000 Africans,” she added.
Akilah Institute has made efforts in building competence-based curricula so that all graduates meet labour market demands.
Hunt commended student’s achievement due to their hard work hard. And observing that despite challenges they deserve to be where they have reached.
She therefore, encouraged the students to fight hard in order to attain their vision, by using her testimonies of how she rose from being a mediocre during her youth to her current status in life.
“I experienced many failures in my life, which didn’t put me down, but left me to fight even harder to achieve my goals.”
“When you fall and get up you get even stronger than before and you can reach further than you expect,” she added.
She went on explaining that during her youth as a student she tried living her dream of being a leader and having good grades but only managed to be among best students during her last exam of the last year at school.
She challenged students to develop the ambition of venturing into seemingly impossible things which in most cases turn out to be possible and lead them to prosperity.
Other guests who graced the event included Elizabeth Dearborn-Hughes, CEO & Co-founder and Catherine Heaton, Principal among others.
Many Akilah graduates have gone on to work for major international companies such as Marriott International in Dubai and Doha, while others have joined businesses in Rwanda or launched their own ventures.
Florence Mukundwa, class of 2012, started her own design business using African fabrics. She employs three women from her village.
Vestine Ukwishaka, class of 2013, won first place in a business plan competition at the Univesity of San Diego. Her bakery substitutes sweet potatoes for white flour to produce diabetes-friendly baked goods without refined sugars.
“There’s no more effective way to address society’s most pressing needs than by elevating women,” said Ambassador Hunt.
“When women participate fully in society, communities flourish, generations thrive, and democracy prevails. My motivation is not simply fairness. As my friend Hillary Clinton says, raising the status of women is ‘not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” she added.
Since 2010, Akilah has graduated two classes of students, opened a second campus in Burundi, and launched a new major in Information Systems in response to Rwanda’s priority to develop and expand the information technology sector. According to Rwanda Country Director Aline Kabanda.
The previous class graduated on August 17, 2012.