Maxwin Omondi (Class of 2015): Turning Inspiration into Success
Before coming to the Academy, Maxwin was a student at Maweni Primary School, a public government primary school in rural Mombasa. “The kind of education I was receiving at that school was of relatively low quality compared to what I get in this school,” Maxwin reflects. “When I was in the primary school, I felt like I didn’t have a vision…my dad was retrenched, and I knew it would be difficult for me to continue my secondary education and pursue a career in university.” Maxwin says he feels very fortunate to have been able to attend the Academy and has done everything he can to take advantage of each unique opportunity.
With diverse passions, Maxwin is also heavily involved in athletics. He participates in high jump, triple jump, 100 metres and 200 metres track and field events. He is also part of the school football team. “Even right now,” Maxwin explains, “Tomorrow I have a game!” In addition to all this, he also serves as the academic representative on the Student Council and as a dorm captain.
Maxwin shares that his former dorm parent, Mr. Serem Kipkemoi, is the one who encouraged him in this leadership role. “He encouraged me to be a dorm captain so that I can…serve and help other students [who are] coming to be comfortable with the residence,” Maxwin says. “Now I’m a dorm captain in Mr. Serem’s block!”
“In terms of my career, [my brother] is the one who inspired me and gave me the motivation…he’s my role model,” Maxwin says. His elder brother has been pursuing a career in civil engineering with a goal to be part of the Vision 2030 for Kenya, supporting social development and improving the socioeconomic status of Kenyans. “He couldn’t complete his career [training],” Maxwin recounts, “but I always felt that I wanted to do the same thing as him…I felt the need to continue with his mission.”
And Maxwin has indeed been pursuing this same goal. “My vision of pursuing engineering…will enable me to work with communities around Kenya and Africa in general and improve social and economic development that is currently not in good shape,” he explains.
Maxwin has expanded his ambition to pursue a career in civil engineering into aspirations to better the lives of the people in Kenya: “Most people around Mombasa, including my family, are low income earners, so it’s disturbing when natural disasters take place…one of my aims is to lift that barrier.” In addition to being part of the Vision 2030 for Kenya, Maxwin wants to share vital skills with farmers to improve their standard of living. “If I teach them the skills, then they’ll be able to sustain themselves,” he explains.
Another role model for Maxwin is Mr. Naheed Bardai, the Principal of AKA, Mombasa’s Senior School. “Mr. Bardai has been there for me for many years. He always has a different perspective that he brings me,” Maxwin says. He explains that Mr. Bardai has also challenged him academically: “He’s been very supportive in giving me all these ideas and keeping me on my toes every time…he was my extended essay supervisor and was the one who gave me the idea that it would be better if I base my research on something that I am more passionate about.”
Maxwin has been helping improve the lives of those in and around his community for many years. When he was in Year 9, he had to undertake a personal project. Maxwin chose to base his project on service in the Maweni community. "I understood the kind of problems we faced," he explains. "One of them was lack of educational resources... I felt that using my personal project as a short-term goal to support my former school would be commendable."
In this personal project, Maxwin developed an entire school library of 500 books for Maweni Primary School. In 2011, he decided to continue this endeavour, turning it into a long-term project. He developed an academic exchange programme for students from Maweni Primary School to go to other schools in the area to diversify their learning experience.
The opportunity for education at the Academy changed not only Maxwin’s life but also those whom he has already impacted and will impact in the future. “I’ve enjoyed my time at the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa,” Maxwin reflects. “I feel like I’ve developed and matured over time…Every time I learn something new and interact with different people, I’m able to adjust and be more open-minded in the way I see things.”
By Jahaan Pittalwala
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