Meet the Newest Member of Parliament
MEET ALODIE, GGAST Alumna, and the newest member of Parliament.
After graduating from Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology, Alodie studied in the US before returning to Rwanda where her passion for public service has grown. Since opening Gashora Girls Academy we dreamed of many different ways our alumnae would impact their communities, the country and the world. Gashora alumnae are working as doctors, engineers, environmentalists and scientists, and now…Parliamentarians. Alodie recently ran for and was elected as a member of Parliament for the East African Legislative Assembly. Congratulations, Alodie, we are so excited for you!
Would you please introduce yourself?
My name is Alodie Iradukunda, and I graduated in 2013 in the first class to graduate from GGAST. My hobbies these days are limited to sleeping and an occasional run(walk!).
I attended Trinity College in Harford, Connecticut, graduating in 2018, with my BA in computer science. I am proud of the diverse group of friends and mentors I met at the university. I am fortunate and a better person to have had the opportunity to study at Trinity and meet people that helped to challenge my beliefs. Exposing ourselves to different cultures and people opens the mind to other possibilities and thoughts.
You returned home to Rwanda after graduating from Trinity College. How was that transition?
Returning to Rwanda after graduation was a transition, but it was also an opportunity to reconnect with my family and roots. I worked several different jobs that began shaping my career trajectory. I went from a technical role to hands-on experience in project management, community engagement, and how to make a killer cup of coffee in the morning.
It is strange to go from writing lines of code to developing a strategic plan to create a product. Still, it helped me understand not just how things are built but also understand why. I found myself asking questions about the impact of what we were doing and less about how we would do it. I decided to get my project management certification and was promoted at work to serve as a product owner.
It was around that time that I got involved in the National Youth Council, and I was able to combine both responsibilities.
You served on the Rwanda National Youth Council. Tell us how this happened and what the role entailed?
I served as the Rwanda National Youth Council in 2022. My peers elected me from across the country to represent the interests and aspirations of young people at the national level. The role entailed advocating for policies and programs that empower young people, engaging with government and other stakeholders, and mobilizing youth to participate in civic life.
It is challenging to choose one highlight of my tenure. Still, one moment that stands out was in June 2022, when we hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). We had a specific forum for young people aimed at gathering ideas and highlighting recommendations to Heads of state on the position of young people. It was a lot of preparation and hard work to pull together.
When the ceremony began, and the dignitaries arrived, I was proud to see the hard work of our team come to fruition. It was a moment of great joy and satisfaction to see that everything went smoothly. I remember tearing up before my speech as I watched the Rwandan flag on the screen, remembering all the people who had worked hard to make our country proud.
It was truly inspiring to see the diversity of perspectives and the passion of young people as they shared their ideas and visions for the future. It was a powerful reminder of the potential and energy of our youth and the vital role they play in shaping the future of our country.
Meeting and interacting with young leaders was a gratifying experience, not just because of the ideas and insights I gained but also the connections and friendships I formed. It was an honor to be a part of a community of young people committed to positively impacting the world.
You recently were voted in as a member of Parliament for the East African Legislative Assembly. Congratulations! Tell us about this.
Yes, I recently ran for and was elected as a member of Parliament for the East African Legislative Assembly. My desire and passion for public service stem from my belief that everyone has a role to play in building a better future for our country and region. I decided to run because I wanted to contribute to shaping the policies and laws that govern our lives and to give a voice to the aspirations and concerns of young people.
I will serve a five-year term as a member of the East African Legislative Assembly. My role will be to represent young people's interests and contribute to harmonizing laws and policies across the East African Community.
Looking back at your time at GGAST, how did it prepare you for the path you have walked since graduation?
Looking back at my time at GGAST, I am grateful for the foundation of knowledge, skills, and values it provided me. The school prepared me for my path by instilling a love for learning, a sense of responsibility to my community, and a commitment to excellence. And also how to survive on 4 hours of sleep!
Gashora is special and unique because of the culture of excellence, the focus on science and technology, and the emphasis on leadership and civic engagement. Oh, and the fact that we have the best school song in the land. (Written by the GGAST Class of 2013)
My parents tell me how much Gashora changed me. I was extremely shy and unable to formulate a sentence in English when I left for Gashora. I didn't talk in front of people. Being at Gashora surrounded me with a strong sense of sisterhood and support that thrives among the students. There was a positive and empowering atmosphere where I could build strong friendships that would not judge me but instead support me. The school provides a safe and nurturing environment where girls are encouraged to take risks and express themselves freely without fear of judgment.
Overall, Gashora allowed me to grow both academically and personally, and I am grateful for the unique opportunities and experiences it provided me. It is a special place that offers a platform for young girls to thrive and become the best version of themselves.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now? What are your hopes for yourself and Rwanda?
If there is one thing COVID-19 has taught us is that uncertainty is the new normal, the only constant is change. I honestly have no idea where I will be in 10 years, I can only hope to have a better understanding of myself, my values, and my purpose. I hope to have gained more confidence and certainty in who I am and what I stand for. Ultimately, I hope to be able to stand firmer in my beliefs and be comfortable in my own skin.
As for my country, I am confident that Rwanda will be a leading nation in terms of economic growth, innovation, and overall development. I envision a future where the healthcare system is robust, education is accessible to all, and technology is seamlessly integrated into every aspect of life. I hope to see Rwanda as a shining example of sustainable development and environmental conservation, where the use of renewable energy sources is widespread and Rwandans enjoy a high standard of living.
What advice can you give to current GGAST students?
My advice to current GGAST students is to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, challenge themselves, and serve their community. Believe in yourself, work hard, and always stay true to your values and aspirations. Remember that you are capable of great things and that the world needs you.
But most importantly, always remember to take a break; be kind to yourself. I know we are constantly comparing ourselves to others in today's world. As you navigate through high school, it's important to remember that your journey is unique. You shouldn't be consumed by the pressure to be perfect or to fit into a mold of what society deems as successful. Instead, focus on building your character and developing a strong sense of self.
One of the best ways to do this is by setting aside time to learn and grow in areas that interest you, whether through classes, extracurricular activities, or personal projects. This will help you discover your passions and talents and also help you develop essential life skills such as discipline, resilience, and problem-solving.
It's important to remember that there is no one "right" path to success. Everyone's journey is different and what matters most is that you find a way that brings you happiness and fulfillment. Define your own success.
Lastly, don't be afraid to make mistakes, as it's through them that you learn and grow. I can't tell you how many I have made. Embrace every opportunity that comes your way, whether it's a new class, a volunteer opportunity, or a chance to speak up in a meeting. These experiences will help you build your character, confidence, and heart.