Locally Grown Educator to Celebrate With Rwandan Students
Founder of Akilah Institute for Women will host a special event on Friday night.
Tampa native Elizabeth Dearborn-Hughes has returned home this week with two special guests from the Akilah Institute for Women in Rwanda, a school Dearborn Hughes founded in 2010.
With the help of the Tampa community, Dearborn-Hughes has created an academy where women are trained, educated and empowered through transformational business education. The college recently launched its new business diploma in entrepreneurship and celebrated the inaugural commencement ceremony in August where 39 young women graduated with 100 percent job placement, each on track to launch their professional careers.
"This is a great chance for some of our supporters to meet two of our students and celebrate this first milestone," Dearborn-Hughes said. "I think it's a big deal to bring back our first graduates and to have them tell people the story of what they've been through and what it has meant to them to have the chance to go to college. It's satisfying to share with people what they've helped us do."
Dearborn-Hughes moved to Rwanda in 2006 after learning during her time in college of the genocide that took place in the country during the 1990s, a conflict that the country was still healing from when she arrived.
"The country was still in the process of reconciliation and redevelopment," Dearborn-Hughes said. "I spent a few years volunteering at an orphanage and then had the idea to focus on higher education for women. Most of our kids come from very rural areas where people live on $2 or less per day. Very few of them have the opportunity to pursue a college education and jobs in the private sector."
Dearborn-‐Hughes, a 2002 graduate of Berkeley Preparatory School, credits the Tampa community in seeing her vision become a reality.
“The local community in Tampa has seen Akilah grow from the ground up. Despite being thousands of miles away, our Tampa supporters have trusted our vision and given generously, making an incredible, longstanding impact on young women in Rwanda as a result,” Dearborn-‐Hughes said.
Friday's inspirational event will take place at the Tampa Yacht Club at 6:30 p.m. Tickets and event details are available at www.metropolitansafari.org.