Alumna Spotlight: Ernestine
I am building myself, adding to my knowledge and skills so that I can keep growing.
Akilah Rwanda Class of 2012
After graduation, Akilah students embark on exciting entrepreneurial and professional pursuits — and have valuable successes, stories, and lessons to share. Follow our alumnae after they leave Akilah on Medium or our blog.
Ernestine graduated with a diploma in Hospitality Management as part of Akilah’s inaugural class. While waiting for the green light to begin her training with Marriott International in Dubai, Ernestine began helping out at her alma mater. Ernestine had been working closely with Akilah’s Career Development Officer Ritah Tusabe to organize her position with Marriott, so when Akilah needed some temporary support with data entry, they knew Ernestine was ready, willing, and able.
“We had to follow up with the career development office to find jobs so I kept in touch with Akilah. We were waiting for Marriott when Akilah called me to do temporary things. I started with data entry for three or four days. Then we had so many books that were not organized, so they asked me whether I could help with the library inventory. I cataloged, labeled, and organized all the books — there were more than 5,000.”
I liked it so much that I ended up asking it there was a job opportunity.
As Ernestine got more involved in projects at Akilah she discovered that she really enjoyed working at her former school. The work environment, the opportunity to continue learning, and Akilah’s mission resonated with her, and soon Ernestine realized that her passion lay more in education than in hotel management.
“I developed great interest in working at Akilah. The environment was friendly and I felt that I was learning more. I found that between my interest in hotels and education, I liked education even more. I liked it so much that I ended up asking if there was a job opportunity and telling Marriott that I couldn’t go.”
Since officially joining Akilah, Ernestine’s roles and responsibilities have continued to grow. Today, she is in charge of the library, checking books and laptops in and out and managing the library space and inventory. She is also a faculty assistant, which, as Ernestine notes, “is another big, big job.” She supports instructors with all their needs, helping prepare class materials, managing urgent requests, and providing in-class assistance. One of her most exciting new jobs is working on Akilah Beats, Akilah’s internal weekly email to keep teams across three countries updated on happenings at Akilah. Every week Ernestine keeps track of events, visitors, and student programs on campus, photographing them and writing blurbs.
The most important thing I learned at Akilah was computer skills… Now I’m at Mount Kenya [University] doing a bachelors degree in Business IT.
Perhaps Ernestine’s favorite part of her job is learning new computer software programs and building her IT skills. She first discovered her love of computers as a student at Akilah and the interest has continued to develop. She is currently pursuing a degree in Business IT, taking courses every day after work in order to build her expertise.
“The most important thing I learned at Akilah was computer skills. It was almost my first time using computer and having enough access to computers and I found that I had a lot of interest. Now I’m at Mount Kenya [University] doing a bachelors degree in Business IT. This is my third year. It is five days a week, 5:30pm to 9:30pm.”
I want to stay at Akilah. I have started to see where I can go within Akilah.
Ernestine says that balancing work and school isn’t easy, and she devotes much of her free time, including weekends, to studying and reviewing notes. But she loves her classes and seeing how her academic work reinforces her professional work.
“I like school so much. First of all, I love computers and doing IT is improving my ability to work with computers. And then the business courses are very, very important when you are in an organization. Organization behavior, human resources, cost accounting, strategic management — they all help me to understand how an organization works and because I’m already working in an organization, they’re very helpful.”
Ernestine also looks forward to seeing how her role at Akilah will expand in step with Akilah’s own growth.
“I want to stay at Akilah. I have started to see where I can go within Akilah. Now I sometimes work with the Communications Department and I find a lot of interest there. Because I’m doing IT, I think I can contribute to Communications. I am building myself, adding to my knowledge and skills so that I can keep growing. As Akilah grows, so can I.”