“If they ever tell my story, let them say I walked with giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die. Let them say I lived in the time of Hector, tamer of horses. Let them say I lived in the time of Achilles.”
Graduation ceremony approaches, and I’ve been reflecting on the past couple of years. I’ve had the privilege of forging friendships with inspiring classmates with as much to offer the world, if not more, than their predecessors (link to Fletcher alumni), as environmental custodians, development practitioners, academics, entrepreneurs, financiers, politicians, conflict resolvers, diplomats, responsible journalists, corporate managers and informed security analysts, and many things in between. The Fletcher School, Tufts University’s Graduate School of International Affairs, overflows with fun, energy, ideas and charisma.
I have also had the privilege of forging friendships with classmates who have already come in with breath-taking achievements. That classmates come with stories of their experiences spanning the world, and involving colourful characters – such as a head of state at the International Criminal Tribunal – means that dinner conversations are seldom left wanting. But let’s stop dabbling in the theoretical. Allow me to introduce you to a few of my classmates.
I kid you not, Khushman Hans, F11, has:
– participated in and won 3 marathons, parachutes and deep-sea dives
– degrees from the Indian Naval College of Engineering and a Master of Management from IIT Bombay
– a precocious 3 year old son who asks graduate students, “Do you lead by example?” and corrects adults with, “No it isn’t, that’s an anemometer”
Adebusola Laguda, F11, was the Chief Financial Officer of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, a leading marketing and distribution petroleum products company, with an ACA and an MBA from the University of Lagos under her belt. She also is the mother of an adorable 9 year old daughter.
Nick Wachira, GMAP08 & F10, is the Managing Director of Kenya’s The East African newspaper. He has won journalism awards from Barclays and Diageo. For his summer between his first and second years at Fletcher, he interned at the development consultancy Dalberg in Washington D.C. and at the boutique investment bank Lazard in Dubai.
A two times Olympic medalist, five times World Champion and nine times US champion, Michelle Kwan (link to LA Times article), F11, is the most decorated figure-skater in US history. She is also the author of three books, the founder of a scholarship programme for college-bound female athletes and a commencement speaker. In 2006, she was appointed the first US public diplomacy envoy. Besides all that, Michelle has been an understated but involved student at The Fletcher School for the past couple of years.
Ameesha Chandnani, F11, is one of several people at Fletcher who make me feel functionally provincial. Born in India, she’s lived in six states of the USA, has a home in UAE, studied (ironically) a year of Economics in Argentina on exchange from Northwestern and has been taken to Nigeria on business engagements.
Between semesters at Fletcher, she has worked for the US government on South Asian affairs, for State Street in sovereign risk management and in public affairs for ExxonMobil. Prior to Fletcher, she managed infrastructure projects for Lemna International and before that was a business analyst for Target Corporation.
Founder and Chairman of Loita Capital Partners, a pan-African investment bank, Justin Chinyanta, F10, came to Fletcher with over 20 years of professional experience in his field. In four years time, Justin intends to contest elections for the Zambian presidency.
Justin also serves as the Executive Vice President (Southern Africa) for the Africa Business Roundtable and is a member of the Initiative for Global Development’s Frontier 100 CEOs. He sits on the boards of Junior Achievers International and Orphan Support Africa. He was a VP at Citibank and at HSBC Equator Bank in Africa, was a Fellow of Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and has an Honorary Doctorate to his name.
Where in the world is Patrick Meier? (Link to NY Times article.) Swiss, Patrick was born in Cote d’Ivoire, raised in Kenya and has since been consulting in the USA, Norway, Switzerland, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, East Timor, Northern Ireland, Austria, Ethiopia, Gambia, Somalia, Congo-Brazzaville, Belgium, and probably a few more countries I failed to mention for organisations that include various UN agencies, ECOWAS, Africa Union, USAID, DAI and the OECD.
Less varied are Patrick’s educational institutions, which include York University in England, a year exchange at Berkeley, his masters at SIPA, Columbia, his PhD at Fletcher and a fellowship at Stanford.
As the Director of Crisis Mapping and Strategic Partnerships at Ushahidi, Patrick has introduced this non-profit’s open-source platform to the community at Fletcher, where students have engaged in helping victims of natural disasters in Haiti, Chile, Pakistan and Japan. In the case of Haiti, Fletcher students guided US Coast Guards to areas of need, and in the case of Japan, the students, mainly representatives of the Japanese government, passed on the initiative to the government of Japan.
GMAPs (Global Masters of Arts Program)
Ambassador Adonia Ayebare, GMAP12, (links to AllAfrica article) is the Ugandan Ambassador to the UN. In a previous life, he was a journalist, but in the past decade has been playing key roles in mediating peace between Uganda and neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi. Most recently, he has served as Director of the Africa Program at the International Peace Institute.
Adonia has three prior masters degrees.