TAMPA, FL (September 10, 2019) — Ten years after Tampa native Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes founded the Akilah Institute, the all-women’s college in Rwanda will celebrate its decennial milestone with a summit on the global ecosystem of education innovation.
The summit, “Education for a Changing Planet,” will take place at the Florida Aquarium on Friday, Oct. 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will bring together some of the world’s foremost education experts and radical innovators to examine and explore disruption in global education models and industries beyond.
Five Akilah Institute alumnae will be joined by a lineup of experts including:
- Dr. Cristi Ford, Chief Academic Officer of Davis College
- Dan LeClair, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Business School Network
- Carlton Ward Jr., National Geographic Conservation Photographer
- Dr. Jeff Borden, Chief Academic Officer, Saint Leo University
- Bryan Setser, Principal, rpk GROUP
- Thomas B. Cavanagh, Vice Provost for Digital Learning, University of Central Florida
- Dr. Carmen Nibigira, Former Director of Tourism, Burundi
The Summit’s panelists will cover topics including the state of global education, the role of artificial intelligence in education, the future of work, and environmental sustainability, conservation and climate resilience as career competencies in educational models.
Dearborn Hughes, a graduate of Berkley Prep and Vanderbilt University, started the school to support Rwanda’s bold vision for economic growth and female leadership throughout the region. The accredited college relies heavily on donations to cover a large portion of students’ tuition and is determined to help find innovative and sustainable pathways for women to become educated and employed. Studies, including the Drawdown, have shown that empowering women is the key to global progress.
Over the last ten years, with support from a large network centered in and around Tampa, Akilah
has successfully implemented a number of critical innovations. Akilah has accredited three diplomas with proprietary curriculum, built a technology platform to match students and graduates with career opportunities, designed a unique blended model that leverages adaptive learning tools, launched a professional development institute to train faculty in competency- based education and student-centered methodology, and most importantly, created an empowering and nurturing campus culture that celebrates creativity, innovation, and leadership. Ninety percent of Akilah alumnae launch their careers within six months of completing their studies and earn 12 times more than the national median income. Akilah’s graduates are recruited for coveted positions in diverse industries including telecommunications, solar energy, government, civil society, sustainable tourism, and more. Today, Akilah has more than 2,000 students and graduates.
Akilah’s impact on East Africa is witnessed through the story of Nadine Niyitegeka, one of Akilah’s first graduates now serving as an ambassador for the community. Niyitegeka, who was three years old during the Rwanda Genocide, graduated from Akilah Institute in 2013 with a degree in hospitality management. She turned down offers from the world’s largest hotel chains to work at Akilah where she is now responsible for recruitment and development duties. Niyitegeka will be among the alumnae to participate in the summit.
Nadine Niyitegeka and Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes are both available for interview ahead of the summit. To schedule an interview, please contact Ben Norton with Brock Communications at (508) 837-1700.
About the Akilah Institute
Akilah Institute is Rwanda’s only college for women. Founded in January 2010 as a way to educate female leaders for a sustainable future, the school offers two-year advanced diploma programs in Business Management and Entrepreneurship, Information Systems, and Hospitality Management. Akilah is a part of the Davis College global network of universities.