IISM ALUMNI NETWORK
We are hugely proud of all our graduates and all of the amazing things that they go on to do after leaving. As we build our network of profiles to share with you, here are some fantastic highlights.
Anna Adima (Class of 2013)
Since I graduated from IISM, I have had the privilege to live in several different countries, both for higher education and for professional reasons. I studied International Studies at undergraduate level at Leiden University (the Netherlands), which included an exchange semester at Université Toulouse – Jean Jaurès (France). Taking all my academic classes in French and immersing myself into a different language was very challenging but I left France all the stronger with it, and with improved language skills. I then pursued a Master’s degree in African Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London (UK).
After university, I worked with UN-HABITAT at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, the UN Headquarters in Africa, under the agency’s Executive Director, which gave me unparalleled exposure to diplomacy and the UN’s role in Africa.
Currently, I am very proud to be pursuing a PhD at the University of York (UK) in East African History; I feel lucky to be researching an area I am passionate about, and to learn more about the region that has moulded me into the person I am today.
Two of my favourite subjects at IISM, both of which I took at A-Level, were English Literature and History. I often think back to my teachers in these subjects at IISM, and I am grateful to them and to the school for nurturing my passion for these subjects in a positive learning environment – so that now I am pursuing a combination of both at PhD level!
Some of my fondest memories of my time at IISM were my involvement in the wealth of extra-curriculars offered at the school. Activities such as The International Award, the Swim Squad, prom-planning, and the school plays (especially the Sixth Form production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband in 2013!) all allowed me to develop personally and acquire people skills which were invaluable in the academic and professional circles I moved in later. The diverse nature of IISM ensured that I have little difficulty in settling into different places and in navigating cultural boundaries.
Thanks to IISM, I have come to realise that I thrive – both professionally and personally – in international environments.
"Thanks to IISM, I have come to realise that I thrive – both professionally and personally – in international environments."
"To all my incredible teachers at IISM, thank you for pushing me in school and making me go the extra mile."
Azan Virji (Class of 2013)
I am a first-generation, low-income, Asian-African, Ismaili-Muslim, immigrant. I grew up in the small city of Mwanza, Tanzania, where growing up poor was challenging to say the least. As an only child, I realized early on that the burden to break the cycle of poverty fell entirely on me. The idea of not pursuing a higher education and to instead work to more immediately to support my family crossed my mind several times.
But then I got into Yale! So, after having never left East Africa, I caught a one-way plane ticket to the other side of the world as the immigrant searching for a better future. And while people told me I was “set for life,” it sometimes didn’t feel that way. For starters, my financial situation didn’t change—I still worked 20 hours per week to put myself through school. I had to constantly grapple with my identity as someone who couldn’t truly fit into either the Asian or African communities. Staying connected to my family 7000 miles away and prioritizing my faith while navigating college has been one of the hardest things I have had to do.
And now, I have been accepted to Harvard Medical School to start in the Fall, 2019.
I share each and every one of my accomplishments with an entire team of people. First and foremost—to God Almighty—as chance does not explain how a small-town boy with nothing got here. Shukran lillah walhamdulillah. To my parents, who have made endless sacrifices for my future; there are no words to express how thankful I am for making me the person I am today. To my Day 1’s who believed in me, thank you for standing by me.
To all my incredible teachers at IISM, thank you for pushing me in school and making me go the extra mile. To my brother—thank you for reading every single essay I wrote. I will always be indebted to you.
Here’s to the next chapter of my life—to making an impact in the lives of others.
Alex Adima (Class of 2015)
After graduating from IISM, I embarked on my 6-year journey to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Currently completing my 4th year, I am proud to have attained several academic as well as personal achievements along the way at university. Last year, I opted to complete an additional BSc degree in immunology to enhance my understanding of such a relevant and ever-growing field, and did so with honours. I have also taken a role in various academic societies, being involved in teaching younger medical students as a way of giving back to the community. Besides medicine, I have continued to immerse myself in music by playing in a band, performing to fundraise for various charities, as well as being part of the A Capella society for several years.
On a personal level, I can proudly say university has shaped me into a positive individual. It has given me the opportunity to expose myself to diverse individuals, broaden horizons and challenge myself to try new things. It has instilled a strong sense of independence in me whilst equipping me with the skills to learn and gain inspiration from others.
During my 6 years at IISM, the school had always lived up to its long-standing philosophy of ‘the right balance’. The combined enthusiasm of the teachers and recognition of students’ talents culminated in an environment that encouraged growth within and outside the classroom. I carried this mindset to university where an adequate work-life balance contributed to my academic and extra-curricular productivity.
The diverse community of IISM, with teachers and students from all corners of the world, and the way such diversity was celebrated through events like ‘International Day’ helped me to embrace the presence of people from different backgrounds in higher education.
I would urge all students at IISM to dream and to dare – whether you want to be a doctor or engineer, or a professional athlete, do not shy away from using your gifts; do not simply try to get by in life but strive for excellence in every duty, large or small. At the same time, it is important to appreciate that the pathway to success is rarely an easy one. It’s ok not to be ok at times, and let every stumbling block be an opportunity for growth.
"I would urge all students at IISM to dream and to dare – whether you want to be a doctor or engineer, or a professional athlete ...strive for excellence in every duty, large or small."