Akilah Students Form a Student Government!
On Friday, March 11, the students at the Akilah Institute for Women elected their new student government. The week leading up to the elections brought campaign fever on campus, and the candidates ornately littered the campus with leaflets about their qualifications for office -- the students also gave speeches in front of the entire student body and staff.
Students successfully and peacefully elected officials for four campus-wide positions (President, Vice-President, Minister of Campus Community & Culture, and Minister of Ethics & Accountability) and three class positions (Class Representative, Student Affairs Counselor, and Event Planning Chair).
Florence Mukangenzi was elected as the President of the Student Body. She is a very poised young woman with natural authority and a humble spirit. She makes for an excellent leader. Anita Umutoni was elected as the Vice-President. The Minister of Campus Community and Culture is Gisele Bahati, and Ernestine Mukangeze was elected as the Minister of Ethics and Accountability.
At the very first student government meeting, the new President, Florence, took the lead and guided the discussion toward defining student values and narrowed in on the role the student government should play at Akilah. As leaders, they decided that they want to be good role models for the other students. At the meeting they committed themselves to being “trustworthy, humble, hard-working, friendly, and honest” young women that the other students can look up to. As a group, they hope to build a “spirit of working together” to create “an exemplary student government” based on mutual respect and support.
The new student leadership also discussed possible goals for their first few months in office. Some ideas included improving the educational atmosphere by encouraging total English immersion on campus, balancing the workload between classes related to on-campus lunch, introducing new student clubs and after-school activities, and improving public awareness of the Akilah Institute for Women in Kigali and across Rwanda.
After a week of collective brainstorming, the student government will reconvene and decide on their major goals. I’m excited to see what their plans will be. I think it will be really powerful for the student leadership to take their ideas and bring them into reality – both for themselves and for the Akilah staff.
The Akilah staff have spent countless lessons teaching our students about leadership. Leadership & Ethics is a required course for all students; they have studied public speaking, team building, group management, organization, and many other topics which we hope will prepare them to be strong women in their society. But it is quite a different thing to lecture them on self-confidence and interpersonal skills, than to watch them put those ideas into practice. Our new student government is filled with young women who have already internalized these concepts and are ready to act. We are getting a glimpse of who these students will be in the future, and it is encouraging beyond words.