AAI Graduate: A Journey of Resilience, Excellence, and Impact
Thiery is an AAI Graduate from Benin who completed his undergraduate studies in Mining Engineering at Exeter University in the United Kingdom.
According to Thiery, the AAI program empowered him to prioritize learning outside the classroom. He took it upon himself to develop his emotional intelligence, time management, and leadership skills. To learn more about the mining field and develop the necessary skills related to his kokorozashi, Thiery completed an internship at a gold mine in Mali. Thiery’s project included leading a team of four people, collecting and analyzing data, and finally providing the company’s leadership team with recommendations to decrease production costs. The internship played a crucial role in Thiery’s professional development. “It helped me stand out during my job search process. In my last year at university, I was fortunate enough to work under a mentor who helped me develop soft skills, coached me on interview techniques, and supported me throughout the whole job search process. On the other hand, the skill of multitasking was pivotal during my job and master’s program search. Utilizing the skill, I was able to carry out my studies, undertake an internship, prepare for interviews and work on my graduate school applications.”
Thiery also highlighted the cultural exchange and pan-African network he developed through the Ashinaga Africa Initiative (AAI) “My participation in the AAI exposed me to cross-cultural dialogues that reshaped my understanding of Africa. While in the program, I engaged in formal debates and workshops with peers, which helped me realize the complexity of different issues facing the continent.” As a result, Thiery shaped his kokorozashi to revolve around addressing the mismanagement of natural resources in Africa. “My time with AAI and experiences inspired me to reimagine systems for the extraction of natural resources to empower Africans to build effective partnerships locally and globally.”
In parallel to his studies and troubled by seeing so many students struggling to afford school supplies, Thiery started an initiative that supplies stationery and education tools to disadvantaged students in Benin to help them pursue their academic work. “I started this after my internship in Mali with the savings I made, and it helped me buy a small amount of stationery to launch my project. Looking ahead, I plan on increasing the scale and impact of the initiative. We hope to work with more local partners to provide more school supplies to children and ensure no one is left behind.” Thiery’s hardships and experiences inspired him to pay it forward and extend his support to other young people so they can also have access to education.
Thiery envisions an impact that goes far beyond his home country, Benin, and encompasses all of Africa. In that light, Thiery co-founded a company with his friend that provides diagnostic equipment to medical students in Senegal. Their goal is to increase access to quality equipment for medical students and practitioners and thus improve the quality of health care in Africa.
Thiery graduated during the height of the pandemic and went through a long and challenging process of job hunting and applying for graduate schools. His hard work paid off, and he is currently working as an Engineer at Strabag, a leading construction company, where he is taking part in the largest infrastructure project in Europe so far, called HS2 (High speed 2 projects).
Thiery is determined to increase his knowledge in the mining and engineering industry through his current job. He hopes to develop a strong network and expertise to bring his kokorozashi to life and revolutionize the mining sector in Africa. Thiery also hopes to continue contributing to making quality education more accessible on the continent.
Thiery’s academic excellence, exceptional skills, and unshakable commitment to make an impact in Africa even before graduation is a testament to the immense potential young people have. For Thiery, it is about continuously learning and paying it forward. “I owe my success to Ashinaga. It taught me two valuable skills: networking and multitasking. Ashinaga developed my networking skills. Through the Ashinaga program, I gained access to a rich and wide network. Through these contacts, I was able to land my first internship role in Mali. ‘’
Ashinaga is thrilled to see AAI Scholars and Graduates excel beyond academics and unleash their leadership potential.