TAMPA, FL (September 18, 2019) — Ten years after Tampa resident Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes founded the Akilah Institute, the all-women’s college in Rwanda will mark this milestone with a decennial gala celebrating 10 years of impact in East Africa. The gala will honor Dearborn Hughes’ late father, Tampa lawyer Cody Fowler Davis, who was instrumental in bringing the Akilah vision to life.
The gala will be held on Saturday, October 5th at Armature Works from 6 to 9 p.m., followed by an after-party from 9 p.m. to midnight. The evening will feature an immersive virtual reality experience, an opportunity to meet Akilah Institute alumnae, and celebrate the launch of a global network of universities, Davis College, named in honor of Cody Fowler Davis.
Dearborn Hughes, a graduate of Berkley Prep and Vanderbilt University, founded the Akilah Institute to support the Rwandan government’s visionary strategy to invest in women’s education and sustainable development. The accredited college relies heavily on donations to cover a large portion of students’ tuition, and continues to refine its academic model to ensure innovative and sustainable career pathways exist for women. Studies have shown that empowering women is the key to global progress.
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. As of November 2018, Akilah has more than 2,000 students and alumnae.
Replicating the Akilah model on a global scale, this year sees the launch of Davis College, a global network of co-ed universities with a bold vision to reimagine education for millions of young men and women around the world. Davis College educates young leaders to champion opportunity and sustainability in solving the world’s most pressing challenges.
“I have witnessed first-hand the global higher education crisis and the urgent need for scalable solutions. The next decade will see an additional 800 million secondary graduates than today. The traditional university system is unable to meet this rising demand,” said Dearborn Hughes.
“As automation, rapid population growth, climate change, and technology change our world at a rapid pace, traditional schools are unable to provide high quality and affordable education to tens of millions of young people. We need a new model of higher education that empowers students to boldly face the realities of the 21st century.”
Davis College will offer a unique hybrid of a liberal arts education with applied and technical curricula, rooted in Akilah’s original five pillars: 21st century skills, personalized learning, innovation, ethical leadership, and sustainability. By combining competency-based academic programs with a customized, data-driven learning model, Davis will actualize practical experience and equip students with the tools needed to thrive in their careers. By 2030, Davis will launch 10 campuses in Asia and Africa, educating one million students.
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 with a degree in hospitality management. She turned down offers from the world’s largest hotel chains to work at Akilah where she now works as External Relations Officer. Her education and subsequent job enabled her to move her family from the slums of Rwanda into a middle-class home, and she now travels the world sharing her story of how women can and will impact the future of Rwanda.
To interview Niyitegeka or Dearborn Hughes, contact Ben Norton with Brock Communications at (508) 837-1700.
About the Akilah Institute
Akilah Institute is Rwanda’s only university for women. Started 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 will begin offering Bachelor’s Degrees in 2020.