Class of 2021: Afi A-Alkebu-Lan ready to take off with aviation degree from BGSU
PLA scholar also focused on leadership opportunities, founded Women in Technology
By Bob Cunningham ’18
One of the reasons that Afi A-Alkebu-Lan landed at Bowling Green State University in Fall 2017 was because it had what most universities didn’t: an on-campus airport.
Now, four years later, A-Alkebu-Lan is ready to take off in an aviation career, and not even the sky can limit her aspirations.
“I plan to do great things in the future and show the world what this BGSU alumna is all about,” she said.
A-Alkebu-Lan, who attended Cass Technical High School in Detroit, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in aviation technology from the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering (CTAAE).
A-Alkebu-Lan became interested in aviation after flying to Japan with the mayor of Detroit with other high school students. Now, she has a Mayoral Fellowship lined up with the City of Detroit mayor’s office, located at the Coleman A. Young municipal building, which begins after graduation. She also interned at the Coleman A. Young International airport for two years as an aviation mechanic in training.
“I am excited to be able to utilize all the leadership skills and knowledge that I have obtained from BGSU these last four years and really put them to the test in the real world,” she said.
The Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy (PLA) scholarship is another reason A-Alkebu-Lan chose BGSU because “I knew that it would be a great fit for my leadership talents and development.”
The PLA is a four-year leadership development program that engages scholars in classes, workshops, experiential learning and community service activities. The curriculum focuses on specific outcomes, with each year's experience building on those of the previous year.
PLA scholars intentionally learn to serve their community based on the values of servant leadership, A-Alkebu-Lan said.
“Our core values are integrity, service, credibility and learning,” she said. “Being a servant leader is educating yourself, learning about those around you, understanding and being able to adapt to new and diverse environments. Being a servant leader means keeping an open mind and continually using your active listening skills. Being a servant leader is much more than leading; it's about giving back to others the gifts and opportunities that have been given unto you and making a difference in order to effect positive social change.”
“Leadership is so important to us in PLA. Most importantly, within my four years in the PLA I have learned how to adapt to diverse environments and be able to lead anybody, anywhere.”
“The University and the PLA absolutely lived up to my expectations, and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world. Throughout my educational career here at BGSU, I have taken advantage of all opportunities presented to me. I also credit my amazing PLA support system and Jacob Clemens (director of PLA and assistant dean of students), especially for always supporting my crazy ideas and leadership endeavors. These opportunities have aided in my leadership development and involvement throughout my four years here.”
A-Alkebu-Lan's experience in leadership training led her to become the founding president of Women in Technology. After starting the organization in Fall 2017 with Resmi Krishnankuttyrema, assistant teaching professor in CTAAE, A-Alkebu-Lan served as president for two years.
“I enjoyed being able to bring underrepresented women in the engineering technology fields and majors together,” she said. “This organization was created as a support group for college women in fields where we are the minority and needed a little more support than what we were receiving in the major and in the classroom.
“From there, it grew into something greater that eventually began getting nationally recognized by colleges, universities and even top-tier companies looking to hire women in our organization.”
When A-Alkebu-Lan started Women in Technology during her freshman year, she never imagined that it would have gained such strong and genuine support and become such a large organization that has remained active since its inception.
“I am proud to say that being able to help lead these women to greatness was one of my greatest accomplishments in my college career,” she said. “I would like to thank Resmi Krishnankuttyrema because she has been one of my biggest supporters throughout my career. She has always seen my potential and constantly encouraged me to keep going and do more to maximize my college experience. I absolutely appreciate her for this.”
“I first met Afi in my engineering technology introduction class during her first semester at BGSU,” Krishnankuttyrema said. “It was her leadership skills that captured my immediate attention during that first interaction. She proved me correct by working with me tirelessly to create the Women in Technology group. After her term as president, she became an active member and constantly supported me and the organization in every way possible. She is also an advocate for the University’s diversity and inclusion efforts by actively participating in any related events/committees and contributing her thoughts and ideas to the benefit of the college and the University.
“I am so happy and proud to see her graduating in flying colors and wishing her all the very best in all her future endeavors.”
A-Alkebu-Lan also served as an undergraduate representative on the Dean’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion (DACODI) and was an active member in the Illustrious Iota Iota chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
“I have had an absolute blast being a part of the DACODI committee and being able to share my knowledge on diversity and inclusion from the direct perspective of a minority student who attends this University,” she said. “It was a learning experience working with some of my former and current professors, amending documents and implementing plans to make positive social change in efforts to make diversity and inclusion a priority here at BGSU. It was an honor being asked to be one of the first student representatives on this committee.”
Looking back as she is ready to march forward into her career, A-Alkebu-Lan summed up her time in the aviation program and her experiences at BGSU.
“My experience in the aviation studies program have been nothing short of a journey,” she said. “I have met and created amazing relationships with the students in my major and have stayed up countless nights studying with them as well. I’ve had some hard times and great ones, but it was all worth it sharing this journey with my wonderful peers.
“Coming in, I had a goal and I stuck to it. I came into a difficult major and never lost hope, even when things got hard. I credit this to PLA and my wonderful faculty mentors such as Resmi Krishnankuttyrema, Jacob Clemens and Ana Brown, who have continuously supported me along the way. A true family is what I received here at Bowling Green.
“BGSU has most definitely shown me that anything is possible: When you are faced with a challenge, sit back, think and problem solve. In my career field, effective and efficient problem solving is the pinnacle focus of what we do. Therefore, I am very thankful to have had the experiences that have led me to becoming an amazing problem solver, and I believe that it will help me immensely in my career field.”