Elias Okwara (Class 2008): Ethical Leadership, A Cornerstone of Progress | Aga Khan Academies

Elias Okwara (Class 2008): Ethical Leadership, A Cornerstone of Progress

“No man is an island, and we as a global society need each other.”

Elias Okwara who graduated from the Aga Khan Academy in 2008 was never the one to settle for less in life. His steady progress since he left the Academy is full of celebratory milestones and is a living testament to his amazing spirit.

Elias is currently pursuing a degree from Drexel University in Philadelphia in International Area Studies with a concentration in Justice and Human Rights. “I plan to pursue International Law and Diplomacy,” he says. “My hope is to serve at the International Criminal Court as a prosecutor and do some diplomacy work later on.”

Elias is also a Star Scholar at Drexel, a position of great repute that comes from having an excellent academic standing and receiving recommendation from professors. He also interns for the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, an organization that brings together top government officials, business leaders as well as policy movers in different fields to focus on pertinent international issues. “My responsibilities include doing research on key issues and identifying relevant public figures to speak about such matters,” says Elias. “I also coordinate with speakers and do event planning, as well as write introductions and opening remarks for speaking events.”

Elias is particularly proud of his work with the United Nations Association of the US where he provides community service by visiting various public libraries in the area and talking to students about the work of United Nations. Recently, he participated in some videoconferences organized by Global Education Motivators where he talked to high school students in the U.S about various international issues with a focus on Africa. “Much of the American public is not exposed to international news and actualities, and so I used this chance to dispel any misconceptions, especially about Africa and Kenya in particular,” explains Elias. “I hope that through my presentations, I will help students cultivate an international mindset, where they realize that no man is an island and that we as a global society need each other.”

Elias attributes his current success to the time he spent at the Aga Khan Academy. “The exposure to pluralistic ideals I received at the Academy helps me in engaging with individuals who have different perspectives on things, “ he says. “The mature approach to issues I learned at the Academy enables me to argue my points with coherence in various forums.” He gets nostalgic at times for the Academy and its teachers. “I was fortunate to be taught by exceptional teachers who were willing to go beyond their call of duty to assist us,” he says. “I definitely miss the warm feeling of being surrounded by people of different cultures and backgrounds who come together to ensure that students achieve their goals.”

Elias plans to return to Kenya at some point. He values the principle of ethical leadership taught to him by the Academy and principal Peter Murray and actively pursues and practices those ideals both in and outside of school. “ I believe this is one of the key ingredients missing in our Kenyan society and in my opinion keeping the sleeping giant that is Kenya from waking up. I believe that if some components of IB were part of the Kenyan education curriculum; it would have a huge impact in transforming the students’ way of thinking about issues like community service.”