Aamen Muharram: My Time at ALA has Unleashed My Passions

Aamen Muharram is a recent graduate of the African Leadership Academy, class of 2021. As a recent graduate, his time at ALA has been filled with a broad spectrum of activities. He got to explore his love for classical music, philosophy, science, and programming. Aamen is exemplary at taking initiative and is curious, innovative, and enterprising. These attributes enriched his ALA experience and enabled him to grab various opportunities including cofounding ALA Environmentalist Group, winning the Dean Christopher Khaemba Award for Academic Excellence, and most recently, being a mentor for the Engineering Leadership Program.

As a lover of music, Aamen plays the piano and composes his own music – he even graced us with a joint performance at his graduation and performed at three termly music concerts. He got to explore his love for philosophy through academic and extracurricular commitments and took the African Philosophy course in his second year. During that time, he introduced Friday Philosophy lunches, where, together with some of his peers and faculty members, they discussed different ideas and topics during their lunches. One of those lunches got him thinking about Climate Change, leading to the collective conception of the ALA Environmentalist group, an independent action-centered climate group. 

Aamen studied Computer Science and Physics as academic electives, and in his second year, he joined Science Research. As a self-motivated student, he further explored his scientific interests independently. That is not the full extent of his initiative – his love for the Science Research class led him to work alongside one of his teachers to expand on the learnings and introduce a new curriculum as a year-one extension to the class. From that point onward, he had fruitful discussions about the state of science at ALA and how it can be improved. As part of these improvements, he worked on the maker space, recommended some material to be bought to benefit the space, and joined the Engineering Leadership Program as a mentor. 

Aamen’s Computer Science class was a huge learning ground where he worked on his programming skills; he learned from his teacher and peers, often further than the prescribed curriculum. He and his team then joined the HealthTech Hackathon where they placed second in a contest of participants from all over the world with varied levels of experience. They developed a cardiovascular disease risk rate algorithm that is tailored to the African population. Aamen was also a part of the Arachno student enterprise, an enterprise dedicated to developing websites and mobile applications. Furthermore, he took a game design and development course and a Cybersecurity course through the Global Online Academy (GOA). Currently, he is working on VR development for the maker space. 

Of course, we asked Aamen to share more about his experience as an Engineering Leadership Program Mentor. He enjoyed the experience where he had the opportunity to mentor the students through their development of a solution to the waste crisis in Africa. As a mentor, he worked hand in hand with his mentees to research the problem more, think systematically about it, research existing solutions and their limitations, and in the end, create their own solution by improving on these limitations. It was very rewarding for him to see his mentees grow into the engineering mindset, research, and presentation skills. That was the main reason had wanted to be part of the program. He, too, gained value from this experience – the feedback that he received from his mentees helped him grow as a mentor. He learned the importance of having organized channels of communication and the adoption of a balanced approach when engaging mentees.

Aamen is currently taking a gap year that is packed with multiple projects. He will be keeping in touch with the ALA science department and continue his work in VR and curriculum development for the research class. He will also be providing content and videos for some of the science disciplines that are currently not available as academic subjects such as astronomy. In addition to that, he will be working on developing software and for robotics applications. He recently rejoined the Robokid Academy, where he will be working as a coding instructor. To nourish his love for philosophy, he will be working as a translator for philosophical books.

Aamen’s commitment to many different projects and initiative has been exemplary. It has allowed him to be curious, develop skills, broaden his learning experience, and work towards providing solutions across many disciplines.

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