Ham Serunjogi: Leader and bold thinker | Aga Khan Academies

Ham Serunjogi: Leader and bold thinker

Look below for a video of Ham talking about his experience at the Academy.

“Serving as Student Representative Council president at the Academy was one of the most defining experiences of my life. Being responsible for a group of over 50 members taught me a lot about leadership. I walked away with a renewed excitement for service to others.”

Ham Serunjogi beat the odds. He was recruited by Facebook, the social media giant, first as an intern and then offered a full time position with the company – an incredible feat given that Facebook has one of the lowest acceptance rates for internships in the world! He made some bold moves to get there, and while he is a natural leader and team player, Ham credits the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa for teaching him to think critically and for helping him decide on his chosen career path. 

Ham joined the Academy in 2010 a few weeks past the start of the academic year, but with good reason. He was competing in the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore representing the Ugandan national swim team. Thanks to the help of the teachers at the Academy, he quickly caught up. He graduated in 2012, and in those short two years, he accomplished a lot.

“Serving as Student Representative Council president at the Academy was one of the most defining experiences of my life,” says Ham. “Being responsible for a group of over 50 members taught me a lot about leadership.” To balance everyone’s interest and create synergy in a group that big is not easy, but Ham put a lot of thought and care into every decision he made. “I walked away with a renewed excitement for service to others.”

Ham speaks of his experience at the Academy with the sense that it was like being with family. He speaks fondly of his roommates Martin and Aleem, and of his dorm parents Mr Bardai and Mrs Lunani. “They took great care us,” says Ham. “I’m still in touch with Mr Bardai. He always went out of his way to ensure that the school was supporting us in every way.”

Ham also remembers Mr Dudi as a fantastic friend and teacher. “He gave me great advice and was genuinely interested in my Academy experience,” says Ham. “I will never forget that he brought me porridge to my room when I was not feeling well.”  

It’s easy to see that Ham’s mentors at the Academy have helped shape his experience there. “Mr Ocheing was my math teacher and his class was my favourite at the Academy,” he says. “He constantly pushed me to do better!” Of the many teachers, including those that wrote his college recommendation letters, Ham says: “They challenged me to think about things differently. A lot of the guidance they gave me still directs me in my life today.”

But the greatest influences in his life remain his parents. “I could give a million reasons why I admire them,” says Ham. “The one reason that really stands out for me is that my parents are the most selfless people I know. They have always taught me to embrace humility.”

Right now, Ham is in his last year at Grinnell College, a private liberal arts college in Iowa, and will be graduating in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in economics. Upon graduating, he will start his job at Facebook in their Global Marketing Sales organisation thanks to the impression he must have made when he was interning with the company over the summer. But it was how he got the internship that displays Ham’s ability to ‘Move fast. Be bold. Be yourself.’ – Facebook’s mantra on their careers page.

“I took an unorthodox approach,” explains Ham. “Instead of applying online, I sent an email directly to a couple of senior people at Facebook.” To his surprise he received their responses within hours, each urging him to apply online as well, and soon he had recruiters calling to set up interviews.

“The education I have had at the Academy had an emphasis on critical thinking. My role requires a lot of problem solving and thinking outside box.”

By Farzana Logan


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