Connor Toohill '14 Teaches at the African Leadership Academy

Author: Connor Toohill

Connor Toohill with graduates of the African Leadership Academy

The first time I heard about The African Leadership Academy, I was sitting in a Forum with my classmates in The Hesburgh-Yusko Program. During a presentation about next steps for HYSP, Mark Yusko mentioned a new relationship that we would be forming with The African Leadership Academy. “Wait,” one of my classmates asked, “We’re going to be working with The African Leadership Academy?” 

I only knew the name at first - but over the next few years, I was fortunate to learn more about The African Leadership Academy (ALA) through some of the school’s graduates who enrolled at Notre Dame. I was blown away by Geraldine and Jason, Kaykay and Khaoula, Hind and Majak, and many others. At the time, I was becoming very interested in the world of social entrepreneurship, and as I decided to focus my senior thesis on that topic, ALA emerged as one of the organizations that I wanted to study. Thanks to a grant from The College of Arts & Letters and a lot of help from HYSP, I ended up traveling to Johannesburg, South Africa, during October 2013 (my senior year) to spend a week at ALA’s campus.

After a few days of sitting in on classes and speaking with members of the staff, I knew that I wanted to return to ALA. I applied for a Teaching Fellowship and a few months later, I was lucky enough to be offered a position. I’m now a Fellow in ALA’s Entrepreneurial Leadership team, based at our campus in the suburbs of Johannesburg. In my first year, I was in a project role, working with initiatives in our Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership, developing a new study abroad program, and supporting our staff and students. In my second year, I’m shifting to a full-time teaching role in our Entrepreneurial Leadership Department. I’m grateful each and every day for the opportunity to work in such an incredible organization, to work with such talented people, and to work for remarkable students who I really believe will transform the African continent in the years to come.